Saturday, 22 August 2009

Bird Fair

Greenshank at Brandon Marsh

Friday 21st August 2009
Visited the Great British Birdfair extravaganza at Rutland Water on Friday. Quite an enjoyable and relaxed day despite the crowds. Didn't have to queue for anything, although it was a bit disconcerting going to the toilet with loads of telescopes pointing at you from a big tent. Luckily they were at least 50 metres away.
You can always guarantee to meet meeting of few old friends and a couple of younger ones and then of course theres always Bernard. Bernard was inquiring about far away places with strange sounding names. Me? I was more interested in trips closer to home. I was quite impressed with the new lagoons complete with a pair of Ospreys. There's no half measures at Rutland water if they do a job they do it properly. Or so it seems to me, the hides and screening are excellent. -
and a brief mention to the lady who wound her car window down to say thankyou when I pulled over to let her through on the way out. Class!

Saturday 22nd August
Brandon Marsh - had a stroll around Brandon Marsh. The recent strong winds had eased so it felt quite warm in the sun. Teal pool had a Greenshank, East Marsh had a Dunlin although I didnt see it and from Carlton hide there were 2 Green Sanpipers, 1 Heron, 7 Photographers, 1 Hobby briefly, and 1 Common Snipe.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Phantom Moth Knicker strikes again


Red Underwing

Oak Bush Cricket

Brown Argus




Tuesday 18th August 2009

A visit to Draycote was long overdue, so with camera loaded and bins at the ready I travelled over with John Smart a long time birder and short time moth-er. Our first scan of the cafe produced a Lime speck Pug but as John got his eye in he quickly found a cluster of Flounced Rustics and a Red Underwing plus an as yet unidentified Pug. There were also a couple of Oak Bush Crickets which were new to me. They were having a bit of a Wasp fest at the caterers so we set off to trek to the valve tower to check out the bird life. About 30+ House and Sand Martins were feeding in Rainbow corner and the single Goosander was having a kip near the inlet. There was no sign of a Shag at the Valve tower so we moved on. The meadow next to the treatment works was full of Butterflies including Brown Argus. We refused to use the new boardwalk as a dignified protest against Severn Trent's lack of vision and total disregard for real conservation.
It wasnt until we had almost completed the circuit that we spotted a Turnstone and then a juvenile Ruff but there was no sign of anything else, even Common Sandpipers. John and I enjoyed a coffee back at the ex-cafe and picked up a bit of goss about a mystery moth potter,
actually there was no mystery about it. You see I know ! Could I ask people not to remove moths from the cafe walls. Leave them for everyone to enjoy.Thanks.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Local walk 2

Sunday 16th August 2009
What do Yellow wagtails, Little Owls and Cattle Egret have in common? Answer: they all follow cows. Yes, the most, ney only point of interest on a walk from Burton Hastings to the Lime Kilns on the A5 near Hinckley on Friday was the sight of a Little Owl apparently tracking a herd of cows along a row of fence posts. I have to admit I didnt see the Owl drop down on a worm kicked up by the cattle but then again most of the cows were lying down or standing still but I can think of no other reason the Little Owl would be in such close proximity to the cows. A couple of Linnets and Bullfinch a few Common Buzzard and a thousand Woodpigeon were the only other birds seen although a friend of mine had reported hearing a Turtle Dove along the route a few days earlier.

Friday, 14 August 2009

A local walk

Mount Judd


Coventry Canal

Mancetter Church

Friday 14th August 2009

Starting from Caldecote, near the A5/ A444 junction, its possible to take a circular walk using the well marked Bridlepath to the North along the Anker valley. The path initially borders a Sheep field where about 20 Swallows were feeding. The path crosses the River Anker and at this point I heard a Turtle dove, it kept well hidden in the riverside trees. Over the river the path ran alonside a Broad bean field, a small flock of Goldfinches fed on the thistle heads and a couple of Linnet moved restlessly from the hedge to the top of the Oak trees. A Great spotted Woodpecker flew across and a Common Buzzard circled distantly. The path comes out on Leathermill Lane which itself comes out on the B4111 which you follow uphill to the only pub on the route The Anchor(Everards). The pub garden backs on to the canal, follow the towpath back towards Nuneaton to a Marina where you pick up a track which goes under the railway tracks and back to Caldecote via a riding school. Took me a couple of hours at a very steady pace. Apart from the Turtle dove very little of interest to report but it was mid afternnon. The walk has the potential to turn up something. Birds seen in the area this year include Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier and Whinchat. Other birds seen today: Stock Dove 2, Green Woodpecker 2, Willow warbler, Grey Heron and Chiffchaff.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


Migrant Hawker

Common Blue

Common Blue


Tuesday 11th August 2009

Well the eardrums have stopped throbbing after the weekend so with a drop of fine weather I felt I should risk it and venture out. Not ready for Staffs yet but Ladywalk seemed a safe bet. From the car park a scan of the pylons produced a Peregrine but there were very few passerines about on the walk to hide B. A few birds were moving in the reeds in front of hide B including a family party of Reed warblers and a single Cetti's warbler. A Great spotted Woodpecker was on the feeders in the Birch wood but again very few other birds were seen on the walk round to Riverwalk hide. From the hide 4 Common Snipe were seen on the far bank. Cormorant, Grey Heron, Stock dove, Gadwall and 2 Ruddy duck were noted with the more regular birds. 8 Curlew came flying in mid afternoon. Hobby had been seen just prior to my visit but unfotunately did not reappear.

Came across a blog on Raptors in Lancashire or rather the destruction of raptors in Lancashire on Surfbirds . I thought back to the Hen Harrier that wintered in the Tame valley last year and how much pleasure and interest its presence created. You just feel so helpless. If massive organisations like English Nature or the RSPB can't or wont do anything then whats the point in me getting upset about it.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Moths, Beer and Burgers

Thursday Club Bar b q

Thursday Club Bar b q

JY - 'Smokin'

Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Saturday 8th August 2009

Interesting day in the garden. Green Woodpecker flies over garden and lands in tree next door in morning. Hummingbird Hawk Moth in garden in afternoon spotted by Jan. The other next door turned their garden into a fun park for the day, gawd knows how long thats going on for. Trouble with fun is it tends to be noisey. The more noise you make the more fun your having or think you're having. Not that it matters cos its the Thursday Clubs Classic car show and Bar-b-q at the brewery. So I'll be out some of the evening, its just a question of how long I can make my beer ration last. They've put me in charge of chutneys and pickles. I'll let you know how it goes.

Well, Bar b q was great, burgers sausages etc. excellent, pickles outstanding, beer OK, company jovial, weather amazing. A good do.
However, back at home it was a bit of a nightmare. Had to listen to a PA system that would have been just the job at Glastonbury but in next doors garden totally over the top and the idiots doing a Kareoke still had to shout even the interior walls shook. No point in attempting to sleep so caught up on some episodes of Red Dwarf I'd missed till the early hours. We had been warned but the total disregard for anybody else in the neighbourhood was not acceptable. So there.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

A stroll round Shustoke Res.

Common Sandpiper

Green veined White

Essex Skipper


Painted Lady

Common Tern

Not sure what's going on here - something is being eaten or being laid !

Common Sandpiper

Thursday 6th August 2009

On arrival at Shustoke I decided to walk in an anti clock wise direction a) because it would get me to the end I wanted to be and b) because most of the dog walkers choose to walk in a clockwise direction for some reason. If you are walking in the same direction you have to walk quickly to get past them and leave them behind, which if youre looking for things isnt good or you crawl along at a snails pace to let them get ahead, but then you're caught up by the next one. It was a good decision anyway, the folks I met on the way round were pleasant, the dogs were well behaved and the sun shone.There were butterflies in the meadow and thanks to Andy Hales's telescope 2 Garganey on the res. A Common Tern was finding plenty to eat and a Common Sandpiper trotted round the waters edge. Pastie and coffee for under £2 from the Post Office in Whittaker Heath and a quick look in at Coton. Then it was fantasy birding time, as I sat in the car at the gate a bird caught my eye in bushes next to the gate. Having stowed my coffee and found my bins I got on the bird now on the fence. Strike me down if it wasnt a Hippolais warbler lookalike. Steep forehead, long bill, darker plummage than a reed warbler. The bird moved out sight. I spent the next 20 minutes looking through the Sallows in the marsh and next to the water but predictably there was no further sign of the mystery bird. A couple of Whitethroats and a Garden warbler was all I could manage. Nothing else to report on the pools either I'm afraid.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Essex Skipper

Essex Skipper

Essex Skipper

Small Copper

Painted Lady

Painted Lady
Tuesday 4th August 2009

Sorry about the expletive but its the way I feel at the moment. I'm sure theres an appropriate definition about frustration but it doesn't spring to mind. Missing out on a gettable Marsh Harrier in Warks was a bit of a blow as far as the old County year list goes, would have cleaned up the realistic rarer raptors for the county. Still there are a lot more important issues in the world to worry about, so perhaps I shouldn't fret too much. On the other hand its because there are things to worry about that we have distractions like listing or maybe its our way of having fun.
Anyway not being able to drive at the moment is restricting my activities a bit. A few local walks havent produced a great deal in the way of birdlife although a couple of garden Buddelia have been alive with up to 6 species of Butterfly.

Wednesday 5th August 2009
My old friend John and I travelled to Stretton under Fosse to try and find Essex Skipper. I'd never been 100% certain of the ID but John reckoned there was a good location for them just outside the village. As it had rained all morning it probably wasnt the ideal time to go but there seemed to be plenty of moths, grasshoppers and Butterflies. However, not too many Skippers. The path passed through tall grass meadows with clumps of Thistle where the Moths and Butterflies were concentrated. There were a few Macro moths; Orange Swift, Common Carpet and Shoulder striped Wainsccot and large numbers of Grass moths and Udea lutealis. It was a good site for Small Copper, but the most abundant Butterfly was Gatekeeper, closely followed by Painted Lady with a few Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells, Essex skippers, Large and small Whites.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

What's this bird?

Lesser spotted Eagle - Israel 2008

Steppe Eagle - Israel 2008

? Turkey 2009

? Turkey 2009

Saturday 1st August 2009

Those of us in the entertainment industry feel an obligation on miserable Saturdays like this to do something to brighten up everyone's day. As you know I'm no comedian and there aint much I can do for the poor so and sos camping in Wales with 3 kids. but for those enthusiasts trolling through the internet for something interesting or stimulating in a non physical sort of way I should relate that I'm in the middle of an interesting ID debate. Sorry its not a particularly local issue but not even Bartley Green or Drayton Bassett gets too many Eagles.
No, what happened was. I put a photo of an eagle I'd seen in Turkey on my website. At the time it was identified as a Steppe Eagle and everyone was happy with that. This week someone -bg -commented that he thought it was in fact a 3cy Lesser spotted Eagle. Not being an expert on Aquilla eagles myself I contacted someone I'd met on a trip to Isreal who must have seen thousands of both species. He confirmed that the Turkish Eagle was in fact a Lesser spotted Eagle. Good enough for me so I changed the labelling on my website accordingly. I also contacted Vaughan Ashby, co-leader of the trip to Turkey. Vaughan replied that he was intrigued and would make further enquiries himself. In due course he replied after contacting individuals who again were very familiar with both species migrating through Israel. They agreed with the original identification of Steppe Eagle. So at the moment the matter is unresolved but I await developments with considerable interest. I've put 3 images of the species in question on this blog: the bird in question and 2 shots I took in Israel of both species. Obviously the Turkish bird is a lot lower/closer, and the ages may be different so care should be taken when making comparisons but see what you think.