Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Wednesday 23 November

Managed to get a morning out today so I decided that I would try for Hawfinch just outside of the village of Upper Longdon on Cannock Chase.

I arrived at a little after 10am and was a little unsure as to where the birds had been showing. They hadn’t been seen for a couple of days, but with the way the weather had been, I wasn’t surprised. So with a steady drizzle falling I had a search along the rides to the north of the road, but without luck.

I tried the other side of the road and there were a couple of birders, so I assumed I was getting a little warmer. However, there was no sign of Hawfinch although good flocks of Siskin and Redpoll were pleasant, that together with a couple of Brambling in with the Chaffinch looked like the highlight.

I met up with three birders making their way back to the car park and they said they had heard Crossbill further down the track. So I decided not to head home and went in search of Crossbill another species I haven’t seen this year. At this point the weather took a turn for the worse with a steady drizzle falling. I made my way back to the car, I was nearly back at the car park when I picked up a bird in the tree ahead of me, it looked the right size and shape and there it was a Hawfinch. It wasn’t alone however, I counted seven birds I watched them for several minutes until my bins got too wet. Unfortunately I had to walk under them to get back to the car and the flew towards the village. As they seven flew they were followed by another two birds which I also thought were probably Hawfinch, so there were seven or nine!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Monday 14th November

Had a walk around late afternoon after a busy morning, it wasn’t too bad although passerines were in short supply. With the recent rain the water level has risen covering most of the shoreline that had been visible.

There were a few Redwings going over but only in one’s and two’s, the Kingfisher was again sitting on the shoreline. The Ravens were also very vocal today around the small pool.

The Common Sandpiper was seen that is three winters on the trot now that one has been present. There were also c.120 Lapwing, c.80 Pochard, c.150 Tufted Duck, c.160 Coot, 6 Gadwall and a single female Goldeneye.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Shustoke early November

Been really busy with holidays and decorating, so I have been neglecting the Reservoir but to summarise there has been two Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye, Knot, Redshank and a rather showy Kingfisher.


A week in Scotland

Spent the week in Scotland, managed a little birding and two days of hill walking. Saturday afternoon was spent at the football were Saints were punished by Patrick Thistle going down to the odd goal in three loosing out to a last minute winner!

Sunday 30th October
It was a pleasant day, good for late October so we opted for a day in the hills. We chose the Corbett – Being a' Chuallaich which lies about 15 miles west of Pitlochry, first though was the little matter of a Ring-necked Duck on a small pool in Pitlochry.

Ring-necked Duck, Pitlochry

From Pitlochry it was only a 25 minute drive to the starting point, as we approach Beinn a' Chuallaich it appeared miles away. I realised we had taken a different road! At the starting point the slopes were so steep that we could not see our target which lay behind the steep ridge in front of us. After a 30 minute climb it levelled out and the hill lay ahead with a mile or so of peat hag between!

It walking wasn’t pleasant but we soon hit firmer ground and once at the col we were soon reached the substantial summit cairn. At this point I had only been wearing a T-shirt, but at the summit the wind was chilly, so out came the coats. We took our time taking in some stunning scenery, then on the way back I came across my first Ptarmigan since I started climbing Corbetts.
Joy at the summit of Beinn a' Chuallaich
Me at the summit of Beinn a' Chuallaich
Looking west with Loch Rannoch behind
Schiehallion

We stopped again at Pitlochry on our return to take in the scenery and the autumn leaves over the loch were simply breathtaking, with scores of photographers making the most of the autumn sun.
Pitlochry
Monday 31st October
Had a day out birding with Stuart Green, an Angus birder I have known for over ten years now. We have a similar sense of humour and I always enjoy his company. We met at Carnoustie with the idea of birding Barry Buddon a headland than goes out into the Tay estuary. Unfortunately it doubles as a Military Firing Range and just out luck the Red Flags were up.

We decided to just work our way north along the coast to Arbroath. Unfortunately it was quiet although for me birds like Twite, Long-tailed Duck c.120 Red-throated Diver etc were not to be sniffed at. On the outskirts of Arbroath we checked out the Elliott Burn, I mused that if there had been a headland here it would be known as the Elliott Ness! We crossed a pedestrian railway bridge to check out the beach and on the way back my boot snagged on one of the steps and if fell down the last five steps, nothing hurt but my pride! We ended up in with a Med Gull in the roost and I dropped Stuart off back at his car in Carnoustie before returning to Perth.

Tuesday 1st November
Joy and I spent the morning in Fife where we searched in vain for a Surf Scoter, we did see Long-tailed Duck c.80 Velvet Scoter and a variety of common species but although flat calm the sun was low and looking south was a bit of a problem. We searched for Purple Sandpiper at St Andrews, were unfortunately a dog flushed all the birds from the exposed rocks. I did see a small flock of Knot fly off but I was ten minutes too late to find anything else.

Wednesday 2nd November
Joy and I chose Meall nan Maigheach in the Ben Lawers range as today's target and it was an easy choice with the Loch Tay to Glen Lyon road taking us up to 500m. I predicted Golden Eagle mainly as its been a while since we had seen one on the hills and we had seen them in this area before. Although the terrain wasn’t the easiest we were remarkably sitting at the summit in 50 minutes. Again we took our time and enjoyed the scenery with good views back to Meall nan Tarmachan and down into Glen Lyon. I scanned the skyline and picked up a Goldie flying west up Glen Lyon then it swung south and flew into the corrie of Meall nan Tarmachan – brilliant!
The summit of Meall nan Maigheach with Meall nan Tarmachan behind
The summit of Meall nan Maigheach with Meall nan Tarmachan behind
Meall nan Tarmachan
Thursday 3rd November
Joy and I returned to Fife where we again searched in vain for a Surf Scoter, we saw pretty much the same as Tuesday plus a flock of 6 Whooper Swan. At Fife Ness we saw a couple of Purple Sandpiper but the rain started so we headed back to Perth.




Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Tuesday 25th October

What a few months I have had! I will fill in the details for Shetland and Norfolk ASAP. Those that know me are aware of my lack of posts, it has been a rather hectic year so far which culminated in me turning 60 last week! I still can’t believe it!

Anyway, birding first, today was the first opportunity I have had for a while to spend some time over at Shustoke. I had seen the Red-breasted Merganser following a phone call from Steve Haynes last week. This morning I saw them again, although they can be a little elusive. Also present were 41 Pochard, 32 Shoveler, 1 Wigeon, 1 Goldeneye and a Scaup (not seen this afternoon).

It was a little quiet for passerines but I did unexpectedly find a Common Sandpiper. There were also two Kingfishers perched along the edge.

Last week at a local high point there was a bit of migration going on with lots of thrushes, pipits, buntings and a single House Martin. The next day I went and saw a Ring Ouzel, the fourth at this site of the autumn.

I will endeavour to keep the blog up to date but I’m off on a visit to Scotland next week, can’t wait.

Norfolk Weekend via Essington

After Shetland I was sitting at home chilling on Sunday when there was a fair bit of activity on the phone with messages from Bob and Tom (Julien was on for a second week). SIBERIAN ACCENTOR a first for Britain, gutting, the weeks of straight easterlies were paying dividends, I don’t suffer from bird envy, I was perfectly happy with Siberian Thrush, probably my most wanted species for the UK. I’d missed a first but you can’t see everything.

Joy and I had a weekend planned at Steve’s place at Thornham, so on Thursday I picked up Joy from work at 2.30 and we headed off. We had just got onto the A14 when my phone went, It was Bobby D in a panic SIBERIAN ACCENTOR at Essington on Spurn. What to do, Joy consulted the map, I though there was just about enough time to get there, we got off at junction 1 headed north then west to reconnect with the M1 and went as fast as was legally possible towards Spurn. It soon became clear that it wasn’t going to happen and when I hit the rush hour traffic in Hull we ground to a halt. The internet found us a hotel for the night which was really good value and only a 20 minute drive to Essington in the morning.

The weather was poor with heavy rain showers during the night and I was relatively confident that the bird would be there. At breakfast, it was all birders, some who had seen the bird and some who had not. I was relaxed (amazingly) and we arrived on-site at 7.00am, perhaps more importantly news had come through that the bird was still present! We were not the first and had to park about half a mile away. As we made our way to the bird, there was Bobby D sitting in the back of his car enjoying a coffee! I would have been happy at waiting 6 years to drag this species back, so 6 days was a Brucie Bonus if there ever was one! We queued and eventually when our turn came we saw said species.
Siberian Accentor, Essington
Siberian Accentor, Essington
The next four hours were special, I had had a great day on Unst but this was special as well. There were birds everywhere, at Sammys Point we missed Raddes Warbler, but saw four Ring Ouzel, Redstart, Woodcock, Wheatear with a steady flow of birds moving, it was stunning even if the weather wasn’t.

Next at Kilnsea we got the last parking space on the road, with birders everywhere, it was like the old days. The Guru that is Lee Evans, spoke to me about four times during the day, he was smiling so he must have been impressed. We followed a group to Church Fields, not quite sure why at the time, but the ringing station was having a good day, with Firecrest, Yellow-browed Warbler and a Dusky Warbler paraded before the waiting birders who numbers around 200!
Shore Lark, Kilnsea

Next down to the beach where there was a really showy Shore Lark and on the sea I had an Arctic Skua go past, but no Albatross! We were about to leave when a commotion to our left had me interested, Olive-backed Pipit – what a day!

By this time we really had to be making our way to Norfolk so just after lunch we headed down to Thornham, it took ages. We visited Titchwell before dark seeing a couple of Little Stint and Spoonbill then it was back to the cottage for a well earned meal.

The next day was hard we were both tired from yesterday but we managed a Barred Warbler and Dusky Warbler at Burnham Over Staithe. But being knackered we headed back bumping into Steve and Jeanette on the way. Apart from a visit to Titchwell where we saw a Yellow-browed Warbler, Med Gull and a few bits and pieces we called it a night.

The next day saw heavy rain so we headed home, completely satisfied with what we had seen.

Shetland 1st to 8th October

SATURDAY 1st October

The flight was an eventful one, at Edinburgh Julian and I had to go out of departures to book in again to get our boarding passes, then back through security and then get to the gate for departure! Unfortunately we only had 30 minutes to do this. Talk about panic, needless to say we did it – not quite sure how! We left Edinburgh and flew north, bizarrely we flew over Perth and I picked out my Mothers houses as we went over, it was strange flying over a part of the country I am really familiar with and seeing it from above, as it were.

On arrival in Shetland we made our way to Ocraquay where we saw a Red-backed Shrike, we then headed to our digs which was in a stunning location about a mile from the village of Aith, 30 minutes north of Lerwick. After sorting out the sleeping arrangements I ended up sharing with Bobby D, or he ended up sharing with me. We then hit the road again and in Laxo and the surrounding area we saw Bluethroat another Red-backed Shrike and a Red-breasted Flycatcher, It was then back into Lerwick for Fish and Chips and an early night.

SUNDAY 2nd October

I looked out of the bedroom window and picked up an Otter, I shouted downstairs and we all eventually got good views. A search of the plantation at the bottom of the garden resulted in a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers. We birding around in the general area when news broke of a Lanceolated Warbler at Boddam.

We arrived and birders we knew were coming away saying it was too crowded. We persevered and with around 80 to 100 birders looking into a very overgrown garden that sloped away from us it wasn’t looking good. Half a dozen lads to my left started getting excited, stretching necks and making sounds that to me are a bit of a memory, but the rest of us were clueless. I could only see into a foot square window (when I said it was Overgrown!).

After about an hour I noticed that along the garden there were around a dozen or so birders lying on the grown peering into the undergrowth, they appeared to be seeing something. One lad started to gesture to a mate of his that was standing by me, he was off, I was close behind!

Eventually I got to the front by the wire fence with Julien and Tom to my side, Bobby D had already seen the bird and had retreated. I looked down (bins were useless) and there it was creeping about like a mouse (click on the link, it really is mouse like). Julian was struggling and when I said it was right under his nose I wasn’t joking. At one point I’m sure it tried his shoes on! (now I’m joking). In the link, the bird actually walks over the photographers hand. We retreated and left the bird amazingly the best was yet to come.

Lanceolated Warbler. Boddam, Shetland 2nd October 2016

At times there can be a little friction between four Alpha Males in the same house and more importantly car. Primarily, where do we go next. Mostly its just a matter of communication. Anyway, communication broke down on our next destination.

News broke of four Killer Wales off Sumburgh Head so we headed there, or so I thought. As we were making our way there we detoured to Grutness to look for a Snow Bunting!!!! I’ve nothing against Snow Bunting but come on! We could see Sumburgh and birders on the cliffs looking out to sea. I assumed that the “IC number one” knew something I didn’t and that the Ocra where heading our way, but apparently not, there had been a Lapland Bunting a few days previous and that apparently was more important.

We got back to the car and made our way to Sumburgh where we were met with the news the Ocra had gone, but Hugh Harrop the resident birder said he was going to check out Scat Ness as they had headed that way. We checked the sea but apart from a couple of Great Skua it was 100’s of Fulmar and little else.

The pager went with the message that the Ocra were off Scatness there was no panic just off the main road was a small group looking out to sea. Then at about a mile distance there they were four Killer Whale, stunning I thought nothing would top this – I was to be proved wrong!

For the second time in two days we ended up at Quarff to look for a Hoopoe which again eluded us. We then drove to Scalloway where there was a showy Rosy Starling. We drove through the town and found the road it was on straight away. We made our way up the hill, it was looking bleak as unusually for Shetland there was plenty of cover, I looked down a small access track and there it was sitting on top of hedge I called the others and the bird performed really well. I back for my camera but the light was disappearing fast by the time I got back. With the light disappearing we went back to the accommodation where I was cooking for the evening.

Rosy Starling, Scalloway


At this point I was nearly sixty and I had agreed to cook a couple of nights. Easy meals, Chilli and a Curry standard fayre. We had done the shopping the day before and it soon became apparent I had forgotten the mince! Unfortunately the baked potatoes I had put in the over were nearly cooked so, a first for me we had Curry and Baked potatoes! A first for me but the others liked it.

MONDAY

It was a lot quieter today with the wind having started to pick up. We firstly checked out the plantation with a few Yellow-browed Warblers and Brambling to show for our efforts. We search another plantation where we saw a few Yellow-browed Warbler and obtained poor views of a Blyth’s Reed Warbler. We then had a search for Hoopoe again at Quarff but drew a blank, Julian and Bob saw a Bluethroat. Next, Levenwick was our destination but it was quiet, news then broke of a Warbler at Quendale, so we headed there, but it proved to be a wasted journey although a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers were seen. We then had another search for the Hoopoe with the same results. Back home early night.

TUESDAY

This was another one of those days, news broke of a Sykes Warbler or Booted Warbler at Sullom plantation. I was driving, we were well placed at Aith so we were the second car on the scene. At that point it transpired that the bird was now a Chiffchaff!!!!! This is where communication came in, with everyone wanting to do different things, so as I was driving, I summonsed everyone back to the car and we headed south, at Quarff we missed the Hoopoe and Bluethroat but it was good birding with Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler and a couple Yellow-browed Warbler. Again at Quendale news broke of a Little Bunting so we headed there. People leaving told us how well it had shown, but it had flown. I got a glimpse of a Barred Warbler by the mill a couple of times, but it was a pain.

News broke of another Little Bunting at Quarff so we headed there but again drew a blank, off home Pinnie on second attempt at Chilli, Oh stopped off for mince, nearly forgot.

WEDNESDAY

This was to be another one of those days. Julian, Bob and I birded the gardens down to the village, we had brief views of a probable flycatcher in a garden, a women in a car stopped and said just go in the garden. Bob and I did and suddenly the door flew open and an Irate gentleman asked if he could help me! I spluttered out an explanation and left, he was fine. An American Golden Plover had turned up at Eshaness in the north so we headed there. Now it gets windy at home, but in Shetland you soon learn what wind is about. On arrival at the lighthouse we found the flock but it was very mobile and looking through the scope was near impossible with my eyes streaming with the wind. We missed out and birded in the area seeing little, that is apart from a Common Tern (in joke).

We cut our losses and returned to the digs for coffee, sitting birding in the porch became a popular pastime and we saw a good number of species from here. Anyway it was decided to return to Eshaness for another go for AGP as we arrived news broke of a Black-throated Thrush in the Sullom Plantation, so we headed there hoping it wasn’t the same birder! Needless to say we didn’t see the bird. I had a confrontation with a Scottish birder who really pissed me off! I’ll have him in the future – Twat! (That’s a village in Shetland!). To compound matters we missed a Hawfinch!

THURSDAY

With White’s and Swainson’s Thrushes both on Fetlar we headed north on the ferry, both the ferry for Unst and Fetlar leave from Yell, so we decided to wait for news before we made a decision. With no news either way we opted for Unst. This was to prove to be one of the best days birding I have ever had.

We arrived at Norwick just after 10.00am not bad going. We saw two rarities in the form of Goldfinch and Greenfinch, not quite what we were after, but! As we made our way along a track I was at the back when two birds flew past settling in the hedge by the house, I picked up my bins and it was Little Bunting, I was pretty sure the other bird was as well but, it was more important to get the others on the birds, eventually we did, there appeared to be three birds in total. Another garden held a Red-breasted Flycatcher and there were birds streaming in with Redwing, Skylark and Brambling all over. We stopped and located a Bluethroat and then Tom picked up another, it was proving a good day, but the best was yet to come.

Red-breasted Flycatcher, Norwick
Next we searched unsuccessfully for another Blyth’s Reed Warbler before we headed to Haroldswick where we had great views of a Scarlet Rosefinch and missed another Barred Warbler. For the second time I got a flea in my ear. Honest misses it didn’t look like a garden to me! We also saw our only Arctic Tern of the trip in the bay, this time it was real and not plastic! (In Joke).

Scarlet Rosefinch
At around 4ish I suggested maybe birding a bit closer to the ferry terminal, the others agreed and with a Little Bunting at Westing that was chosen as our next destination. As we approached the turnoff Tom suggested Uyeasound as an alternative, so we went left instead of right. At a loch we checked out the wildfowl, this took us left at the sea instead of right – fateful!

We parked up and saw a few birders staking out a Barred Warbler in the garden of a large house, we joined them, one was the guy I was sat next to on the plane from Birmingham. We chatted and were joined by a few more people. I said I would go left and look into the back of the hedge another birder said he would do the same from the other side. I couldn’t locate anything, when I heard a shout from the other guy “White’s Thrush” I looked up as the bird with a distinctive underwing flew past landing in the only tree by the road. It was partly hidden, but didn’t look scaly, more dirty black, as I shouted “I’ve got it”, it broke cover, I had the impression of a supercillium, next I heard the same birder shouting “F***** H*** its a SIBERIAN THRUSH”.

He stood in the middle of the field with his arms in the air shouting “I’m F******** having that!” Meanwhile the bird flew down into a couple of gardens on the right down by the beach. Stupidly unlike everyone else I didn’t go for me camera, eventually 20 of us made our way down and the finder and myself agreed to make our way around to view the garden from the other side. Within minutes it flew up onto a washing pole and gave great views for a second or two, it was a 1st winter male. With that the bird flew circled the houses and disappeared into the same bushes. Over the next 20 minutes any birders on Unst made there way to join us and a small group of around 40 birders waiting in anticipation staring into a small hedge as the sun slowly melted away. Then without any warning the bird flew out straight at the eagerly waiting crowd the banked right. I saw tears, people dropping to their knees, sighs, yelps of joy, it was magical, it really was.

Our group were not going to get any better views, we had 15 minutes to get to the ferry so we left, the ferry approached and a minibus with the “Clams” in got off, they had been on Unst all day but had taken an earlier Ferry, fortunately they had enough time to get the ferry back. They pulled up at the side of us to checked we had heard about the Thrush. We were about to tell them where to go when the disappeared into the dust up the road! We met them the next day and they had seen the bird with 10 minutes of daylight left, I think the smiles they all had would have extended that by 5 minutes.

FRIDAY
After yesterday, nothing was going to top this. However, a Brown Shrike at Voe was a good alternative. Eventually we all got good, if distant views. The rest of the day was leisurely with a few visits to sites we had visited previously, but it was a bit after the Lord Mayors Show.

SATURDAY

Time for home but not before we saw a couple more Little Bunting and good views of Black Guillemot in Lerwick harbour.
Black Guillemot, Lerwick

Little Bunting, Lerwick




Sunday, 11 September 2016

Its Been a Month

Joy and I spent two and a half weeks on Tenerife where we basically chilled out in what has been a stressful year so far. We did a bit of birding but didn’t over do it as there are few bird species available. In fact we only managed 49 species – but as usual the quality was high.

Blue Chaffinch

Bertholts’s Pipit

In no particular order: Bolle’s Pigeon, White-tailed Laurel Pigeon, Spanish Sparrow, Monk Parakeet, Bertholts Pipit, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Plain Swift, Pallid Swift, Canary, Barbary Partridge, Barbary Falcon and thousands of Cory’s Shearwaters.

Back home and Tuesday saw me around the Reservoir where it was rather quiet. A phonecall from Bobby D regarding parking for Shetland saw us mulling over a possible trip to Cornwall for the day. Hudsonian Whimbrel and Dalmatian Pelican had been pulling at me for a while now, and the chance to share the costs proved too much. The outside chance of the Scillies Cliff Swallow relocated to Cornwall also played its part.

4.30am on Thursday we were off! Mammals were impressive with Bobby D seeing Badger, but the mammalian star was my and BD’s first Polecat which ran across the road near Maxstoke. The rest of the journey was uneventful apart from a Barn Owl which flew across the M5 somewhere in Somerset.

We eventually arrived at Helston at Loe Pool but as the Pelican had not been reported for a couple of days we weren’t particularly confident. We parked up and made our way to the south end where we searched in vain. We worked our way along the shoreline but drew a blank. We headed back to the car and were about to leave when I suggested that we try the north end on the off chance. Halfway down the hill we met a birder who had seen the bird, so it was just a straightforward walk and there it was beached up on a sand bar. Although the possibility that the bird will be accepted by the birding authorities is open to doubt, it was certainly impressive and worth the effort if in the area. Anyway, tick wise it is one for the back burner.
Dalmatian Pelican, Cornwall
It was only a short distance to the next site just outside Penzance where we parked on the street rather that pay £4 for parking! We worked out way around the coast and found the Hudsonian Whimbrel with two Bar-tailed Godwit feeding on the tide line in a small cove. The birds immediately took flight where the lack of a white mark on the back was apparent. Fortunately the birds returned within a couple of minutes affording us really good views.

Hudsonian Whimbrel, Cornwall

By this time – 1pm I was starting to feel a little tired and the prospect of the drive home looked a little daunting. We returned to the car discussing our options when there was a commotion amongst the local birds, we looked up to see a raptor flying low overhead, it immediately looked different and it was Bob (bless him) who shouted HONEY BUZZARD. It was the best views I have ever had of Honey Buzzard and it was stunning.

To cut a long story short we decided to call it a day. As it was Bobs wife’s birthday it was probably a wise move on his part! We were back home by 7.10pm and I passed my family a mile from home as they were heading out for a curry and my tea was in the dog.

Fast forward to Saturday. I decided after tea to take a walk over Shustoke with Joy as the rain had stopped. We made our way round and picked up a 1st winter Little Gull the first good bird I have had for ages. We were up early on Sunday and the Little Gull was still present as we made our way around we found a Ruff and a Wheatear, so all in all not bad.

Spotted Flycatcher, Middleton RSPB
Having cancelled Sky Sports (too expensive) we went to Middleton RSPB where we saw a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Dunlin, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and a variety of other birds.


Saturday, 13 August 2016

Thursday 11th August

Joy and I took a walk around the Reservoir in the evening and a juvenile LRP was on the western shore, whilst we were watching it a Wheatear flew in and joined it. Then to round off a magical few minutes a Hobby flew through. After months of nothing a few good birds all at once.

We continued round until when scanning through the Lapwing I picked up four smaller waders, two were definite Common Sandpiper but it was too far away to be sure of the other two. I made my way along the south shore the waist high grass but unfortunately the Lapwing flock went up and all I could find were three Common Sandpiper. Although it was too far away to be sure the one bird looked good for Green Sandpiper but that is just an educated guess.

I went over early Friday morning, this time armed with a scope but apart from an adult LRP and three Common Sandpiper I saw little else.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Wednesday 10th August

On Tuesday, I cycled into Birmingham along the canals in search of Black Redstarts,  checking out all the sites we found held the species when the WMBC carried out the Black Redstart survey over 25 years ago. All bar one have now been developed, unfortunately it is the wrong time of year for singing birds but in four trips I have not come across the species. I did however, see a cracking Lesser Whitethroat in the Aston area about a mile from the city centre. I cycled through Birmingham to Edgbaston Reservoir where there were a couple of areas that looked promising, but again I saw none.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I went over the Reservoir and picked up a Great Black-backed Gull coming into 2nd Winter plumage. I carried on around and it was obvious that there were a lot more birds around with Warblers feeding with the tit flocks. In the north-west corner in the bushes by the river there was a Lesser Whitethroat my first for the site this year, as was the GBBG.

There were also c.400 hirundines with around a dozen Swift high over the fields to the south. Again the area between the two pools held a few warblers as well. Severn Trent have had to put up a high fence to stop people messing with the controls on the weir! It looks awful and a potential death sentence for Kingfisher using the river, it must be eight foot high.

I checked out the small pool on the other side of the Railway where there were a couple of Raven but not much else. Then on my way back I saw a Hobby making its way to the Reservoir for lunch!

In the evening Joy and I went to Middleton RSPB where there was still a single Wood Sandpiper, we also saw Green Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, Ringer Plover and 4 Little Ringed Plover.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Early August

The Reservoir has been quiet yet again with just a couple of Common Sandpiper to hold any interest. A Kingfisher was observed carrying food, so it would be reasonable to assume they have bred on-site, there have been a scattering of common Warblers but it has been really quiet. Today saw two Common Terns fly through but they didn’t linger.

Tuesday I visited Middleton RSPB where there was Garganey, Dunlin and two Willow Tit which were seen near the Canal Scrape but I later saw them over the border in Warwickshire at Fishers Mill Pool.

Wednesday saw me at Ladywalk where a Green Sandpiper and Dunlin were the highlights as well as a ride to Riverwalk hide in the Wardens four-wheel drive!

Friday saw Joy and I travel to Minsmere on the Suffolk coast where we had an interesting day which included seeing the Western Purple Swamp Hen a potential first for the UK. Perhaps more interestingly we saw Honey Buzzard, Spotted Redshank, Stone Curlew along with a host of waders. Also I bumped into Lee Johnson who used to run this blog, he has recently become a father – that will be a reality check if there ever was one. Good luck with the twitching in the future Lee – oh and all the best!

Purple Swamp Hen, Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk

video

Whilst we were making our way to the Purple Swamp Monster we observed a dragonfly lying on the ground with its wings flapping, we couldn’t make out what was wrong, that was until we saw it had caught a Wasp! The Wasp was in the Dragonflies jaws but the Wasp had managed to deploy its sting and both were locked in a macabre embrace.

There were a lot of Butterflies at Minsmere and I saw my first Grayling. At Shustoke today I had eight species with a Brimstone a little unexpected.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Wednesday 27th July

On todays trip I saw another largish Grass Snake in the usual place. A Green Woodpecker nearly decapitated an unsuspecting lady that I met, but despite that excitement it was rather quiet.

Bird wise I had another Little Egret which was on the river and flew towards Ladywalk. There were also two Common Sandpiper.

My garden had a family party of both Goldcrest and Treecreeper and I think the former bred again this year.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Catch Up

I have been over the Reservoir quite a bit, but have seen nothing of note apart from a couple of Common Sandpipers the other day and unto two Little Egret about two weeks ago. Common Tern numbers have been reasonable with around c.20 birds at any one time.

Also had a week in Majorca for a variety of birthdays including a meal out at a posh restaurant.

Majorca

Today Joy and I payed a visit to Draycote Water where we saw, c.5 Yellow-legged Gulls and a strange looking individual with a rather long bill, which was distinctly pale based (see photo), I suspect it is a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull but the bill is strange, reminiscent in length of Caspian but the shape of the bird was wrong! I’m no expert on gulls so please make suggestions.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Draycote Water

Strange looking gull at Draycote Water, presumably 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull?

Also seen were four Little Egret, Wheatear, Common Sandpiper and a few LRP.

I have had a couple of lifers this summer with Great Knot at Titchwell and White-winged Scoter at Murcar GC in Aberdeenshire.

Great Knot, Titchwell, Norfolk

We have also started climbing Corbetts, these are hills in Scotland between 2,500 and 3,000 feet. I just can’t give it up!


The Summit of Mount Battock, the most easterly Corbett

Conachcraig with the cliffs of Lochnagar behind.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Humdrum Life

A woman work is never done. I have been bogged down over the last month or so with cleaning, ironing (once), vacuuming but mainly gardening, with this rain the grass never stops. Anyway I have done a bit of birding, but mostly I have been out on my bike.

The idea was that I would search for Quail and Hobby etc., great idea, but I never factored in that I am nearly deaf and can’t hear Quail! Clocked up a good few miles though. Coming through Kingsbury Water Park yesterday, I saw Alan Dean so I pulled up to speak to him. He look agasp, as a large figure in Lycra, sunglasses and a helmet pulled up next to him. He seemed relived when I removed the glasses and helmet to reveal myself!

Anyway on a return from shopping today I popped into the Reservoir (which has been rather quiet) to be rewarded with not one but two Little Egret! There were also 20+ Common Tern and good numbers of hirundines and Swift. Off to  Scotland for a bit of hillwalking and birding – looking forward to it.


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Thursday 29th May

Spent the morning at Middleton Lakes RSPB where I had a pleasant morning, I wrongly thought the rain from yesterday may well have produced something exotic on the wader front – I was wrong!

Most of the warblers were singing, well the ones I could hear, I’m afraid I struggle with Gropper now but the rest are strident enough for me to identify, whilst Cetti’s pretty well announces itself with a fanfare of trumpets . . . I will know I’m truly deaf when I can’t hear Cetti’s!

Jubilee Wetland held three each of Dunlin and Ringed Plover I also funnily enough had three LRP. The four Avocet appear not to have chicks, or they have they are not accompanying them!  There was little else apart from Cuckoo.

Might have a little walk around the Reservoir now that its started raining.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wednesday 18th May

With heavy rain falling, and, a good number of Sanderling turning up at Belvide, I thought I would have a go to see what Shustoke had to offer.

It didn’t look promising and to  be honest wasn’t much good, but there was a Little Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper, so it wasn’t all bad. Plus I had a Hobby trying to catch a Swallow high over the Reservoir, with both birds trying to gain height to get above the other.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Spreading my Horizons

I have been over the Reservoir but apart from Hobby and the occasional Common Sandpiper it has, as expected been rather quiet.

Last week I payed a visit to Draycote Water where there were not one but two White-winged Black Terns, as well as c.20 Black Tern, Arctic Tern, Common Tern. It was a miserable day and as I was scanning through the birds in drizzle and general clag I picked up a distant Little Tern, the bird was pretty obvious being so small and its flight action is what is best described as rapid. None of the other birders on-site where aware the bird was present, until I pointed it out. Most including me had arrived looking for WWBT and with the weather the way it was I for one wasn’t walking around this time. There were also a couple of Turnstone hiding amongst the rocks.

Cannock Chase was visited on Saturday morning and it was rather quiet – apart from Tree Pipit and Wood Warbler it was a little disappointing.

I have visited Middleton Lakes RSPB a few times seeing Garganey, Greenshank, Med Gull, Ruff and a good variety of other species.

With rain forecast for tomorrow I can see myself visiting Shustoke, it does tend to be better when the weather is poor.


Monday, 9 May 2016

Monday 9th May

After a day of rest following Saturdays epic I made my way around the Reservoir this morning. It was however rather quiet. I did add Hobby for the year and there was one Common Sandpiper plus a single Raven.

There was very little singing which was a bit of a surprise, but maybe I should get there for 4.00am!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Saturday 7th May – The Bird Race (Good birds, good company and posh sausages)

Firstly on Friday there were five Black Tern at the Reservoir which I popped into see on the way home from walking in the Malverns, unfortunately they were not present on Saturday.

I was invited to join the Ladywalk Loons as we took on other birding sites in the Midlands to see who could record the highest number of species in a day. I was really keen as it was the first bird race I had been involved with and I was looking forward to it.

I set the alarm for 3.30am and was on-site at 4.05am where everyone was stood in the car park waiting for me! I hadn’t really rushed as I was expecting to be first.... My blushes were spared somewhat by the fact that Adam Archer hadn’t arrived, so I wasn’t last. He arrived 20 minutes later, as, on automatic pilot at that time of day he forgot to get off the motorway and was making his way to work – been there, done that.

Birding in the dark, is a strange experience and it brought home to me just how bad my hearing has become, I really struggled to hear anything, even a distant Tawny Owl eluded me. Then when the others picked up a reeling Grasshopper Warbler, I just couldn’t hear it, eventually later in the day I managed to get close enough to pick it up. But it looks like I may well have to seek medical help.

I though we might get around 70 to 80 species during the course of the day, amazingly the total stood  at 81 species by the time we stopped for breakfast in the car park at around 9.30am. Pete Softley’s pick-up was transformed into a mobile kitchen and a barbecue was lit and some rather Posh sausages (Steve Haynes) were produced. There is something about eating outdoors, that I can’t quite put my finger on, but they tasted fantastic.

The team consisted of Pete Softly, Steve Haynes, Steve Cawthray, Adam Archer, Myself and Kev and Mick who I hadn’t met before, we were joined at breakfast by Dave Hutton and Donna who timed there arrival just as the sausages had reached perfection on the barbie!

We then split up to try and locate a few extra species that were missing from the list, with SH and myself driving to the Environmental Studies centre to search that area, whilst Steve Cawthray, Kev and Mick worked there way along the river to meet us in what was a vain attempt for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. We search some undeveloped areas of the old Hams Hall site that none of us knew existed adding nesting LRP and a single Ringed Plover. We all agreed that a weeks ago we would probably have caught up with Wheatear or Whinchat at the very least as this area looked good.

I went home and had a snooze and returned at around 5pm by that time the running total had risen to 91 species. I thought the heavy rain that fell in the late afternoon may well drop a few birds down. We regrouped in B hide where we added Yellow Wagtail then after I went to check another area of the reserve the others added Hobby taking the total to an impressive 93 species. Everyone looked knackered and by 7.30pm we had run out of steam and called it a day.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I would not hesitate to do it again. As i tweeted, Good birds, good company and posh sausages.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Tuesday 3rd May

The last week or so has seen me at Shustoke but there has been very little to report although others have seen Little Egret and a scattering of passage birds.

Today, for a change I visited Middleton Lakes RSPB on arrival news had broke of another Pied Flycatcher for Warwickshire (I saw my first on Saturday at Ladywalk). I was soon on the bird and as I had taken my scope I managed a couple of photographs. I noted on looking at the pics that the bird was ringed. It was a little grotty for a male Pied Flycatcher so assume that it is a 1st summer male.

I met Dave Hutton and Donna Mallon and we caught up with two fine Whinchat on the reserve. I also saw three Dunlin in total a good number of warblers and wildfowl. The best was to come with a Hobby that performed for ten minutes or so. I also had a calling Water Rail – that would suggest to me that there might be a breeding attempt.

Pied Flycatcher, Middleton Lakes RSPB

Pied Flycatcher, Middleton Lakes RSPB

Whinchat, Middleton Lakes RSPB

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Wednesday 20th April

Firstly there as an Osprey seen on Sunday evening over the Reservoir it was then seen at Ladywalk then further up the Tame Valley at Middleton Lakes RSPB. So far this week it has been quiet at the Reservoir although I added Common Whitethroat and Skylark to the year list.

Last night (Tuesday) Joy and I took a walk at Middleton Lakes RSPB where we nearly had the place to ourselves apart from Steve Pick and we were rewarded with yet another Osprey.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Weekend

Better late than never, I went over the Reservoir with Joy early Saturday morning and on arrival there were six Tern but they were distant but one came close and I identified it as an Arctic Tern, the other looked like Common Tern but it always takes a bit of time to get one’s eye in.

I was searching for the Black-necked Grebe but could’t find it but I did come across a male Common Scoter down the far end. It showed reasonably well, and I was surprised it hung around once the boats came out, but it remained until departing overnight.

Back at the car park the Tern numbers had increased to around 16 birds with the consensus being that they were all Common Tern! At that Nick Barlow picked up a Little Gull as it dropped in and hawked insects. Unfortunately I had to leave, I have been back over but there hasn’t been a lot since, but all in all it was the end of a good week.


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Thursday 14th April

I decided the Reservoir needed a good going over today, although on arrival it didn’t look too promising, however, the Black-necked Grebe was still there although it is quite mobile it can easily swim from one end to the other in 5 minutes.

There were two Common Sandpiper, one of which I saw, also the pair of Oystercatcher were still feeding in the only undisturbed area on the Reservoir the area of grass outside the Sailing Club!

I checked out the sheep paddocks but there was little there and I was a little disappointed, so I walked out onto the Tamworth Road and made my way along Hogrills End Road to check out the paddocks that run from there down toward the Railway and Reservoir. I was rewarded first by another Wheatear then a splendid male Redstart that was feeding at the base of a large Oak. That was only the second Redstart that I have seen at the Reservoir (I think the other was back in 2000). I made my way back to the Reservoir seeing four Linnet my first for the year at Shustoke.

Met Bernard Lee who had come to see the Grebe, Bernard is a larger than life character and we always have a good bit of banter, it was nice to see him again.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Wednesday 13th April

I decided today to go somewhere different, however, I popped into Shustoke early where a quick scan revealed nothing bar a Common Tern and a couple of Oystercatcher. I then made my way to Kingsbury Village where I parked up crossed the river and made my way through the park to Middleton Lakes RSPB.

The Water Park was quiet so I was rather surprised when I counted up that I had seen 53 species before I reached the boundaries of the RSPB reserve. There were quite a few Blackcap but the best species was a day hunting Barn Owl. Also on Cliff Pool there was a good array of waterfowl with Goldeneye, Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck, Goosander, Pochard and Gadwall all seen.

At Middleton, I met up with two couples that I have got to know over the last year, although I have no idea what there names are. The first couple told me there were Sedge and Reed Warbler around – I managed Sedge Warbler before reaching the hide (or lookout as they would like us to call it) the two Med Gull were on show and as I was ready to leave a Garganey suddenly appeared in my scope.

It was starting to warm up a bit and it was a long walk back along the canal to Kingsbury Village.

I spent the rest of the afternoon cutting the grass, then I noticed a message that pronounced that there was a Black-necked Grebe at Shustoke. So later Joy and I went over and saw the bird plus an Arctic Tern and the Common Tern from this morning.

I walked over 16 miles during the course of today and there is a bath calling my name.

Garganey, Middleton Lakes RSPB, Tony Barter

Black-necked Grebe, Shustoke Reservoir, Tony Barter

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Tuesday 12th April

Well after yesterday I wasn’t expecting much, but I was wrong.

As yesterday a scan from the car park revealed nothing of interest, I was half way round when I noticed Steve Haynes again on the car park, this time there were no Little Gull, I carried on around then picked up a Kittiwake tucked up against the far shore. I phone Steve to see if he had seen it, but he had already left!

Anyway he was soon back and managed to see it from the car park as it slowly drifted out towards the middle. There was little around apart from that but at the far end Bobby D appeared coming the other way. I was impressed that he had managed to get over that quickly, apparently though he had got here first. He seemed confused when I asked him had he seen it. By this time the bird had drifted towards the far end, so Bob left me and returned to the car park.

Not knowing quite what to do this afternoon I took a stroll around the Botts Green area, Steve had text me to say he had seen Wheatear, so I went in search of. I parked up as a large female Sparrowhawk drifted over, then I picked up three Wheatear in a ploughed field, then a flock of between 60-80 Linnet, also seen here were c.10 Golden Plover, 4 Fieldfare and last but certainly not least a Red Kite!

On the way home I dropped back into the Reservoir to see if the Kittiwake was still there. It was, tucked up against the bank as it had been this morning. Then I picked up a Little Gull then five more they literally seemed to just drop out of the sky. At this point a speed boat went out and put the gull up but they were all still present when I left at 4.30pm. Joy now wants to go for a walk so we’ll see if they are still present presently.

Well Joy and I went round again early evening, with all the exercise I’m getting the weight should be dropping off me – unfortunately it isn’t! But I digress, the six Little Gull were still around but unfortunately the Kittiwake had departed for pastures new. However, another year tick for the reservoir awaited me in the field on Bexhill Lane with three Wheatear. Back at the car park Julien and Tom were scanning for inside the force field (old joke) but by now we were down to one Little Gull.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Monday 11th April

After a hectic weekend that saw me driving c.750 miles to attend my mothers 80th birthday celebrations I was rather tired. It was my intention to spend a few days in Scotland but although I’m retired (sort of) my son, his partner and Joy aren’t and with Craig in France until late Friday we had to abandon our plans to travel up on Wednesday.

I noticed that there had been a widespread arrival of Little Gull and with Shustoke a favourite destination for the species I thought I would try my luck! On arrival I scanned the Reservoir but drew a blank. I though I’ve made the effort I might as well walk around. There was an Oystercatcher and a pair of Siskin were still present. Then a pair of Greylag flew overhead, I scanned again and saw Steve Haynes in the car park scanning the reservoir. I text him what I had seen and commented that there were no Little Gull. I had no sooner put my phone back in my pocket when I picked one up, then another. A text from Steve confirmed he had seen them as well. By the time I had walked around there were three birds. Plus a Tern, I only had bins but Steve thought it was probably Arctic Tern, which when in came a bit closer seemed right.

He had also seen a Wheater which had flown across the Reservoir and appeared to have landed in the field on the other side of the river. With that I had to leave, but I went back over in the rain this evening picking up Common Sandpiper a couple of Blackcap and a Raven. There were a lot of hirundines driven down by the rain with c.150 Sand Martin, c.10 House Martin, c.40 Swallow. Not a bad April day!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Friday 8th April

After a long chat in the car park Joy and I managed to drag ourselves around the Reservoir in the late afternoon. There appeared to be little around with just 3 Swallows a few singing Chiffchaff and strangely at least 6 Gt Spotted Woodpecker. The Nuthatch have set up home near to where they bred last year and Treecreeper likewise.

As we were leaving the small pool I picked up a male Brambling feeding in the trees, it wasn’t quite in summer plumage but it wasn’t far away.

When we got to the paddocks there was a singing Willow Warbler which showed well and it was joined by a male Blackcap.

Late this afternoon I paid my first visit in ages to Whitacre Heath NR where I spend a pleasant hour or so. Didn’t see much but there were still a few Siskin around as well as over a dozen Redpoll.

Tomorrow my mother celebrates her 80th birthday, so we are off for a meal, unfortunately she lives nearly 350 miles away! And whilst I am retired the others aren’t so it means a drive up early tomorrow followed by a drive back on Sunday, still it is my Mum!


Thursday 7th April

Probably the best bird of the year was a Kittiwake found by Steve Haynes, however, when I went over all I got was a good soaking.

I returned in the early evening but there was again no sign of the Kittiwake and the Reservoir was very quiet. Again though I had displaying Siskin.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Wednesday 6th April

After whimping out yesterday morning I decided to try again in the early evening after a heavy shower, even though the weather still looked poor.

The water levels are as high as I have ever seen them at the Reservoir, which, given the amount of disturbance pretty well guarantees that there will not be a lot of wader passage. I started to make my way around and immediately came across a Little Ringed Plover, most unexpected. It immediately flew only to alight 100 yards of so further along the shore, imagine my surprise when I came across a Ringed Plover alongside the LRP! Two waders at Shustoke is a red letter day and no mistake.

Both birds where flighty and there was a lot of activity with runners and dog walkers and it was no surprise that Steve Haynes only saw the LRP when he arrived less than 30 minutes later.

Otherwise it was cold and windy although there were good numbers of hirundines with c.80 Sand Martin, c.20 Swallow and my first couple of House Martin for the year.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Tuesday 5th April

Not a bad selection of birds with exactly 50 species recorded during my visit. There was little in the way of passage bird however, although I did score with my first Blackcap of the year for the Reservoir.

Still around half a dozen Chiffchaff but strangely no hirundines! One pair of Lapwing appear to be hanging around but this year I have not had singing Skylark in the area that they usually breed.

I attempted a quick trip around this morning but I whimped out as it was cold and I didn’t have my hat – that and there appeared to be very little around.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Monday 4th April

With a bit of free time I spent the morning at the Reservoir. It was dull on arrival but thankfully dry. There were c.40 Sand Martin and several Swallows, as with the other day there were a few Chiffchaff singing at various localities. I also had a pair of Siskin displaying, I will watch that one with interest.

This evening I bumped into Steve Pick who had seen a Tern at the far end, as expected it was a Common Tern, Joy and I continued to walk around adding Brambling which was my first of the year.

Last week Steve Cawthray had both Merlin and Red Kite at the reservoir. Red Kite is a bird that I really want to catch up with as I have yet to see one here.


Monday, 28 March 2016

Monday 28th March

Finally managed to fit in a visit, as mentioned previously I have been rather busy with one thing and another, plus I have had a bad cold that has knocked me about.

Today I fancied a bit of fresh air, so Joy dropped me off at the Reservoir where I bumped into Bobby D, Dave Hutton and girlfriend. There were around 180 Sand Martin and at least three Swallow which where new for the year, after a quick chat I decided to make my way around. Two Oystercatcher flew through but there was little singing with the strong wind and showers keeping the birds low. In fact I saw very little during the rest of my visit.

This evening Joy and I took another walk around, it was a fine evening and the wind had dropped. There were still a good number of Sand Martin although I couldn’t find Swallow. Five Goosander dropped in and there was a single Pochard. A Raven flew low over the Reservoir and was escorted the whole way by a couple of Carrion Crows. We had brief but good views of a Kingfisher and there was a little bit more action on the passerine front, with Nuthatch and Coal Tit singing away.


Saturday, 26 March 2016

Too Busy

I have been way too busy for birding over the last couple of weeks but other people – notably Steve Haynes and Bobby Deckhouse have had success with Sand Martin and Swallow being seen by SH. BD had Redshank and Brambling.

Hopefully I should be able to find some time with the Spring migration starting.


Thursday, 10 March 2016

Thursday 10th March

Managed to get over the Reservoir this afternoon, but it was very quiet. The Pochard numbers have dropped to c.20 but the Wigeon flock (five birds) were still present.

The only birds of note I encountered were a couple of Siskin, where the other hundred or so have got I have no idea. Off to Norfolk for the weekend, then hopefully there might be a bit of movement with Sand Martins starting to move through by mid-March.

Hopefully the Spring might be a bit better than last year, but I’m not holding my breath!

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Thursday 3rd March – Middleton Lakes RSPB

Busy in the house at the moment with one thing and another, so for the first time this week I managed to devote myself to a mornings birding.

I dropped Joy off at work and proceeded to Middleton Lakes RSPB. On arrival there was a Water Rail under the feeders and that was joined by a single Lesser Redpoll and three Grey Squirrels which where hogging the feeders as they do!

I made my way towards the main reserve, and as I passed what I call the “Silt Pool’” me and the Great White Egret made eye contact, unfortunately I was taken by surprise and the bird took off and headed off in the direction of the main reserve, needless to say I never saw it again. I met another birder who had arrived at 7am and he said it was on the same pool. So maybe thats where it starts the day.

On the main reserve there were all the usual suspects with a very nervy Golden Plover flock that did not what to settle. There were two Ringed Plover but an intermittent drizzle started and it was cold, so I went to the hide, there was little to be seen there so I made my way to the field by the canal where the Pink-footed Goose had been reported. I scanned the field but failed to locate the bird. With the weather not looking like it was going to improve I started to make my way back as a small group of around 30 geese flew in, one was obviously smaller and I thought Pink-foot, I picked my bins up and was a little surprised to see a Egyptian Goose! Oh well at least I got a year tick out of it.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Saturday 27 February – Stag Night

Spent the morning around the Reservoir, there wasn’t too much going on although the Wigeon flock has risen to the heady heights of six birds! This is a long way down on the 80 or so from ten years ago but a significant improvement on the last few years where there have only been one or two birds.

Birds were starting to show a bit of interest in breeding with a lot of birds singing and looking to rather frisky especially a pair of Treecreeper around the small pool.

I spent the afternoon indulging in sport – watching the Rugby then the Albion who were impressive in the first have and the complete opposite in the second!

I then attended Steve Cawthrays stag night where the great and the good of Warwickshire birding were on hand. We were all supplied with Del Boy face masks and entered Dreamers Indian Restaurant where it would have been nice if Jellied Eel Madras had been on the menu! The food was excellent as was the company and even some of the other tables joined in the fun. The banter was something I have missed since finishing work and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The UK’s oldest groom! Or is it John Merrick!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Tuesday 23rd February

With Joy having picked up Leonards cold from India she has been layed low for a few days now. I was up early and around the reservoir and home by 9.30am. The Oystercatcher was still there and there were at least 100+ Siskin. Other species of note where around 80 Pochard, 6 Gadwall, 5 Wigeon and 3 Goosander.

This evening I went to the roost meeting up the soon to be Wed Steve Cawthray and the soon to be best man Steve Haynes. The 1st winter Mediterranean Gull was in the roost for the third evening in a row but there was little else.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Back to the mundane

Monday 22nd February

I took a walk around this afternoon but it was largely uneventful, I received a call from Steve Haynes at 5.30pm to say the Med Gull had dropped into the roost, I was on-site within five minutes and saw the bird well and it was still there at dusk.

Having been back from India for a week, birding has been a bit of a struggle. I have been over Shustoke a couple of times seeing Oystercatcher on both occasions. There are good numbers of Siskin and Redpoll around as well.

I had a problem with the blog before I went away (since fixed). The best bird during that period was a Iceland Gull which Steve Haynes picked up in the roost @ 28 January. I arrived just too late to get a good views as it was nearly dark, I did however see it fly briefly before I lost it in the murk and the 1,000s of Black-headed Gull that all took off at the same time.

I was there first thing the next morning but all the birds had left the roost before daylight arrived.

Last evening there was a Med Gull in the roost so things are happening albeit slowly. The Gt Northern Diver appears to have departed in early Feb. It will be getting a little more lively with Spring fast approaching.

The group in the dining room at Pangot

Another picture of us celebrating Lokesh’s tick, rum supplied by said!

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Sunday 14th February – Kosi River to Delhi

Arguably the bird of the trip Ibisbill.
This was our last morning, we were due to return to Delhi later so we were up early. The plan was to take the short trip to the Kosi River to photograph the Ibisbill and it went to plan as Jack picked up two birds feeding just a couple of hundred yards upstream.


video


We spent the next 30 minutes taking in the enigmatic species at our own pace. We eventually got back to the van and Lokesh said lets bird up to the gate, a distance of about 400 yards. At the log last night we were all on a variety of totals but as a group we were on 360 species, you never see them all and you get some the others don’t and vice versa. I for instance had Grey Treepie that everyone missed etc.

Himalayan Flameback
Lokesh scored straight away with Puff-throated Babbler an addition to the holiday total which was a tick for most, but not The Captain and I as we had seen this species in Thailand. Next a group of Long-tailed Minivets a colourful species that I had missed but most of the others had seen. Result! We hadn’t gone much further when the boy squealed again “Himalayan Flareback”, not one but five! We drunk them in, then after Joy and June had had a quick ride in the back of a Tuc Tuc it was back to the hotel to pack for the journey to Delhi.

The group all jelled well from Mike (Geordie) who was like greased lighting when it came to getting to the scope first (including mine). Jack (Scouser) who was a gentle giant, I’ll never forget the locals queuing to get photographs taken with him at the Taj Mahal! The Captain who was ... well The Captain like a coiled spring in the field, and a champion of the nasal trombone in his sleep! Leonard and Rosita (Swedish) didn’t speak a lot of English but joined in as best as they could. The driver who got us from A to B safely, no easy task when every driver is a certified nutter. Last but not least Lokesh who most have struggled with the regional accents as much as Swedish!

At the hotel in Delhi they had Sky Sports so The Captain and I watched the Arsenal v Leicester game before our evening meal, where we said our goodbyes, Jack, Leonard and Rosita who all had early morning flights, Mike like ourselves had a flights for lunchtime so we would present for breakfast.

Back in our room we put the football on and Liverpool were already two up against the Villa, The Captain being a Blues fan was cock-a-hoop and even I, found it a bit embarrassing watching the Villa getting pummelled, Liverpool only played for 60 minutes they could easily have won by more (sorry Karen). As a footnote, the commentary mentioned it was Liverpool’s largest away win for ten years or so, I know I was there when they steamrolled the Albion 0 - 6!

The group on the last morning, can I just point out this was practically the only time that I hadn’t taken my scope.
The next morning after breakfast we were picked up early by the taxis, we tried to get hold of Lokesh but in the end we headed through the traffic for the airport and before long we were back home. It had been a thoroughly brilliant holiday with good company and a great guide who birded with skill and enthusiasm and even though he was under the weather for a couple of days never let it hinder him.

We had seen a tremendous number of birds my total was 355 plus a good few mammals including two tigers. We had seen the good and bad sides of India.

The last of at least a dozen accidents we had seen during the trip.
The last word though is reserved for birds – with rubbish dumped everywhere we went in India, it came as a surprise that there was a large State run rubbish dump in Delhi, we drove past it and it was massive. However, the sight of around 30,000 Black Kite wheeling overhead filled the sky and every available perch was truly staggering. Even the power lines and pylons where hanging with birds.

Can’t wait to visit again...


Saturday 13th February – Corbett Tiger Reserve (Outskirts of)

We searched today along a stretch of river which was probably in the region of 20 to 30 miles upstream of the Temple. Our target was Tawny Fish Owl, unfortunately it wasn’t there – it obviously not been told we were coming. We did however see Brown Dipper, I was the only one who had seen it well previously so it was a good catch up for everyone else.

Lesser Yellownape
Asian Barred Owlet
We didn’t linger and took another road back which took us to around 3,000ft mark and we did our usual of getting out of the van and walking downhill whilst birding. We had a good selection of birds including another Collared Falconet, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Plain and Pale-billed Flowerpecker. Another good bird was a female Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, the best though, but not good for the group was a calling Grey Treepie, I picked it up as it flew into a tree on the wooded hillside. I didn’t want to take my bins away as it moved from tree-to-tree but it was impossible to explain where it was to everyone else and by the time I got everyone on the correct spot, it had gone!

Collared Falconet
Eventually it was back to the hotel for lunch and this time we had a three hour break agreeing to meet up at 4.00pm to bird in the grounds of the hotel.

We met at 4.00pm with no great expectation, but we were wrong, we saw new species for the holiday in the form of Verditer Flycatcher, Blyth’s and Richards Pipits and great views of Chestnut-breasted Bunting this was another species that caused confusion as it is also known as White-capped Bunting.

I had already seen the Collared Scops Owl and was playing it cool.
Down at the river 
Chestnut-fronted Bunting aka White-capped Bunting Emberiza stewarti