Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Its that time of the year

Tuesday 22nd April 2014
Had a quick look around the farm where the Black Redstart was found yesterday but no sign today. Another phone call from Dave H. soon had me on the move again though. This time it was a Garganey at Shustoke where there was also a Common Sandpiper and a couple of Arctic terns. It was the sort of day, damp and misty with low cloud and the threat of rain that you could believe anything could drop in. Several of North Warks. hardcore birders were on site and there was a good deal of light hearted banter and speculation about what might 'drop in'. Needless to say it didnt, but maybe tomorrow Eh.
Garganey, Shustoke Reservoir

Monday, 21 April 2014

One of those Days

21st April 2014
The Plan : the plan was to have a quick look around the Mancetter Hills, principally to look for Ring Ouzel and then ease up to Middleton Lakes to look for Grasshopper warbler and then maybe pop in to Shustoke Res. That was the plan but things didnt quite work out that way. I started at Steppy Lane but there wasnt much about except Linnets, Sand Martins and the odd Skylark. I walked back to the car but instead of going on to the Tame valley decided to check out some Sheep enclosures and Horse paddocks where a Wheatear had been found a couple of days before. Nothing in the paddocks except a single Yellowhammer but on a gate next to some disused farm machinery was a rather dark looking Redstart. My immediate reaction was Black Redstart but then caution took over as there hadnt been too many records and certainly not in Warwickshire. I continued to watch becoming more and more convinced it was indeed a Black Redstart. I phoned Steve H. and went back for my camera. On returning the bird showed again and I got a record shot.
Black Redstart, Mancetter N.Warks
Black Redstart
After putting out news I was joined by a few other local enthusiasts and although the bird disappeared for a while it eventually reappeared to give everyone reasonable views.
It was now probably too late to look for Grasshopper warbler so it was lunch at home, during which Dave H. phoned with news of a possible Red rump Swallow at Draycote Water. I wasnt dashing over for a possible but when it changed into a Fulmar I made a move. Normally I would avoid Draycote like the plague on a Bank holiday but a Fulmar is a great bird for Warks. so it was worth a try. Now can you 'see' a bird you didnt identify for certain at the time? I saw the Fulmar shortly after arriving. It was circling quite high up but the dark grey wings with white marks were clear however, the shape and pointed wings didnt seem right so I dismissed it. It was only when I saw Tim Marlow's photo that I was sure the bird I'd seen was the Fulmar. Other birds on site were less problematic: 7 Little Gulls, 2 Common Scoters and a flyover Whimbrel.
I needed a cup of tea and some peace and quiet after all the excitement. Morrisons on the way back was just the ticket. I was the only person in the Cafe. Back at home I remembered that I'd picked up a message somewhere along the line that the Red crested Pochard were still on Mill pool Alvecote.If I was going to do a County year list I needed to go.
Red crested Pochard, Alvecote

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Hour at Shustoke Res.

Sunday 20th April 2014
Got a call from Dennis W. first thing saying a few Arctic terns had dropped in at Shustoke Res. With overcast skies and rain in the air I decided it was worth a go even though I didnt have alot of time. No sign when I got there though, I checked out Coton on the off chance but nothing doing there either. I'd just returned home when a call from Dave H. said 2 Arctic terns had just dropped in to Shustoke. Cash in or cash out.  Do you - Dont you? Guests were not arriving till later than I'd thought so off I set again. Having parked up it was clear what Terns there were, were down at the far end. Great, a brisk walk was called for. I could see 3 birders on the far bank so I headed off round the west bank. I was half way round the bank when something almost surreal happened. I was suddenly surrounded by Arctic terns flying low only just above head height against the strengthening wind. I reckoned a flock of about 20 birds. It reminded me of a scene from the film 'Tora, Tora, Tora', about the Japanese attack on Pearl Habour. A young lad was having a flying lesson when his little plane is surrounded by Japanese Zero fighters coming in to attack.
Anyway, I continued around the reservoir to where the flock was concentrated. Dave H. Martyn and Kay were already there, watching the flock of 26 Arctic Terns and a single adult Little Gull. It s always a great sight every spring to see these long distance migrants in such pristine plummage. On the way back to the car park I saw my first Swift of the year. So it had been a quite productive visit.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

More summer migrants at Middleton Lakes RSPB

17th April 2014
Having spent time in the southern end of the Tame valley on Tuesday I moved to Middleton Lakes on Wednesday. Coton pool had provided the only new migrant, a Common Whitethroat, on Tuesday but there had been an apparent influx of migrants overnight at the northern end of the Tame valley at least. For a start there were more Willow warblers about and several Lesser Whitethroats. A Cuckoo was heard at Fishers Mill and a Reed warbler also heard from the Silt lagoon. It was too late in the day to hear Grasshopper warblers but I was told there had been 2 or 3 reeling earlier in the day. I caught a brief view of the Glossy Ibis in the small bays on the Jubilee Wetlands and the Black tailed Godwit was still present. Not a bad day at all.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Pied billed Grebe, Rutland Water

10th April 2014
A couple of images of the Pied billed Grebe in the Sailing Club bay at Rutland Water.

Pied billed Grebe, Rutland Water
Pied billed Grebe
Pied billed Grebe

Other birds seen Red Kite, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow pipit.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

More local stuff

7th April 2014
Had a very enjoyable walk thru the Tame valley with Steve C. It had started off quietly at Coton and Cliff pool, Kingsbury but then picked up with Swallows and a House Martin at Hemlingford Water, Kingsbury. News of a drake Garganey had us walking the wetlands trail. There was a mixed flock of Ringed Plover, Little ringed Plover and Dunlin but no sign of the Grey Plover reported earlier. Eventually Steve found the Garganey asleep on one of the islands.
8th April 2014
Change of scene today. A visit to Brandon Marsh proved very rewarding with an Avocet on East Marsh and 2 Lesser spotted Woodpeckers in Horsetail Glade.
Lesser spotted Woodpecker, Brandon Marsh N.R.
Lesser spotted Woodpecker
They're back!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Local stuff

A few images from last weeks local birding. Quite a quiet week for me with a Red Kite over the M40 near Kingsbury, and  probably over 100 summer plummage Golden Plover near Hurley the highlights.
Scaup, Shustoke
Mediterranean Gull, Middleton Lakes
Fox with Canada geese