Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Monday 24th December

With news that a Dusky Warbler had been seen in Kingsbury Water Park there was only going to be one destination I would be visiting today. The bird which is a first for Warwickshire was found yesterday by Rambling Walker (twitter moniker) and reported to Steve Haynes.

I met up with Steve and Graham Mant and we made our way through the partially flooded paths to where the bird had been seen adjacent to the M42 motorway. On arrival the traffic noise was deafening, making picking up the bird calling rather difficult, unless it was close. On arrival we joined several other local birders some of whom had been there since first light.

The bird had shown briefly earlier in the day but only the original finder had seen it. The others though had seen a couple of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and there were double figures of Chiffchaff feeding in the Willows along the river.

After a couple of hours the sun started to sink, as did the temperatures, and the intrepid group had shrunk somewhat. At about 2.20pm the Rambling Walker beckoned us, he had been watching the bird for about ten minutes but he hadn't been able to attract anyones attention as we were around the river bend out of sight.

We quickly made our way to where he was standing and sure enough the bird was calling. It was making its way quickly along the reed bed calling as it went. At this point we were looking into the sun, so we instinctively made our way to the end of the reed bed for a better view and eventually got flight views of the bird as it flew from the reed bed into the Willows. At one point it actually gave a burst of song, certainly something that I have never heard before.

It then reverted to being very elusive and it was a further 30 minutes before it was heard briefly again.  The whole area looks good but there is an awful lot of cover there and its hard to work, more importantly I don’t think the bird will get any easier to see. One thing is for sure I know where Joy and I will be going this year for our Christmas Walk – Merry Christmas Everyone.

Saturday 22nd December

After the rain of the last week had kept me sidelined I took a walk around the fields at Wishaw this afternoon. It was pretty good with over a hundred Skylark seen, in true there was probably double that number.

Surprisingly I only saw a single Meadow Pipit, but other species were seen in good numbers with Yellowhammer, Fieldfare, Redwing, Startling and Reed Buntings numerous. I did search for Corn Bunting amongst the flocks but didn’t see one. But there were a awful lot of birds feeding and a good search through with a telescope could produce results.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Tenerife 27th to 30th November

Monday – Golf del Sur

Steve Haynes and I took advantage of cheap flights to spend a few days in the sun on Tenerife, unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances another member of the party had to withdraw at the last minute.  On arrival we dropped our luggage at the apartment and went birding near to the Airport at a favourite site of mine in the South of the Island at Golf de Sur.

We walked along the main road that splits the golf course into two, at first it was slow with just a Little Egret, a Greenfinch and a small group of Spanish Sparrow, it was proving hard work! We returned to the car, crossed the road to head out between the Golf course and the surrounding desert. As we approached two Barbary Partridge put in an appearance before flying out of sight. We hugged the fence to viewed a small pool partially obscured by surrounding trees when a couple of golfers flushed two birds one of which we identified as a Squacco Heron, my first for Tenerife. Then a Spoonbill flew overhead, I hope my shout to Steve didn’t distract the golfers!

Poor shot of Squacco Heron through the vegetation

There were several Canary Island Chiffchaff but hearing them and seeing them are two different things.We then heard a unfamiliar call which we put down to Spectacled Warbler. With the light fading it was time to return to the apartment via the local supermarket to stock up with liquid refreshments.

Tuesday – Las Lajas

This morning we walked along the sea front near to the apartment but with the tide out it was poor for waders with just a few Whimbrel, Turnstone and Ringed Plover seen.

Later in the day I took Steve up to the Blue Chaffinch site at Las Lajas which is high up in the pine forests on the slopes of Mount Teide. On arrival there were a few picnickers but not at the far end where the birds tend to reside. I parked by the drinking pool, but unfortunately this was dry. Immediately we were into a couple of African Blue Tit a smart bird and impressively marked. Further away I glimpsed a couple of distant Blue Chaffinch and a Canary, I returned to the car to collect my scope setting it up and headed down the slope, only just a little to literally. I lost my footing went arse over, ripping the knee out of the only pair of trousers I had and skinned my knee into the bargain.

Blue Chaffinch

Island Canary

Above the clouds on Mount Teide

Despite my mishap the Blue Chaffinch performed admirably as did Island Canary, we did hear the Goldcrest but couldn’t locate the bird as the light was fading. We had intended to go to my favourite restaurant but as I looked like a street urchin I suggested to Steve that maybe we head into the lava field further up the mountain as they are impressive. So that's what we did, however, it was the cloud rolling into the hillside below us that was impressive. Bird wise we did pick up a couple of Berthelot’s Pipit even at this altitude before returning to the apartment for a shower before a Chinese Buffet to end the evening!

Wednesday – ’tup North & Mount Agua, Erjos

Birding wasn’t the primary reason for this trip, which was fortunate as birds were proving difficult anyway. We headed to Punto Tino in the north west of the Island, the drive was spectacular and we were soon there. Species usually present were absent and it was a bit of a waste of time, We had good views of Spectacled Warbler and a couple Sardinian Warbler, plus Island Canary and Bertholot’s Pipit. We missed out on Barbary Falcon although Steve had a distant bird that was probably this species. A few Raven and Buzzard soared above the distant ridge but little else.

I decided to cut our losses and head to the high altitude village of Erjos in search of the two species of Pigeon. As we drove up the road we entered thick cloud and at Erjos it didn’t look good, also time was getting on. We walked to the viewpoint but visibility was zero, we enjoyed a eerie walk back through the laurel forest hearing Pigeons but not locate any. The best area for White-tailed Laurel Pigeon started to clear and the scenery was mightily impressive but with the light fading fast we decided to cut our losses.

The clouds rolling in from Mount Agua

Erjos with Mount Teide behind

We spent the evening in the apartment with good wine and a Burger King listening to the football via the Internet, Steve's game was a lot more exciting than mine. But we won, Villa had a boring 5-5 draw!

Thursday – Playa del las Americas and Erjos

A walk along the front this morning proved a little more rewarding with the addition of Sanderling, Grey Plover and Dunlin.

A poor shot of Bolle’s Pigeon

In the afternoon we returned to Erjos where we were at least successful with Bolle’s Pigeon, we managed to get a couple of perched birds inside the forest, but when perched they don’t do much other than sit still, so if you haven’t got the whole bird what you see is what you get!

Fortunately we found a different vantage point and after much searching picked up a bird perched on the outside of the canopy, it showed well but was unfortunately a little back lit.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Tuesday 4th December

This year has been a strange and exciting one for me on a professional and personal level. Joy and I became grandparents for the first time. I also took up a job part-time as a Porter at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. As a result the blog has suffered somewhat, to a certain extent I find it quicker and easier to put news out via Twitter. But this “My Diary” has gone to pot!

However, this morning it was nice and bright so I though I would give the Reservoir a couple of hours and it payed off.

I completed a reasonably complete count of the species which included this years first Wigeon and Red-legged Partridge. Also and perhaps more importantly I saw my first Tawny Owl for the Reservoir, a shocking admission. I have heard plenty and have never spent a lot of time searching as they have always called from private land. So todays was a welcome sighting.

8      Mute Swan
62    Canada Goose
1      Wigeon
11    Gadwall
1      Teal
34    Mallard
13    Pochard
170  Tufted Duck
6      Goosander
26    Little Grebe
30    Great Crested Grebe
9      Moorhen
300  Coot

I saw a good selection of passerines including Raven, c.110 Fieldfare, c52 Redwing, Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Goldcrest.

Tawny Owl, taken on my phone