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.