Saturday, 13 February 2010

Roll on Spring

Great spotted Woodpecker modelling my new peanut feeder.

Saturday 13th February 2010

Nothing much to relate but having overdosed on Sport practically all day, and refusing to watch Saturday night 'talent' shows so its blog or alcohol, sorry, blog and alcohol this evening.

I started with the intention of doing a little birding today, but without any great enthusiasm. It was all a bit samey. There seemed to be a bit of a movement of geese particulary Pink feet across the north of the region but nothing else seemed to be happening. So another quiet day after a few quiet days locally. Things got so bad I spent a couple of hours in Leicestershire yesterday, at Shawell pools on the A5 to be precise. Quite a few gulls to look at including a Yellow legged Gull but no sign of the Med. gull that had been around. A quick dash to Brandon for a Mandarin duck proved a waste of time. The search for the first Little Owl of the year goes on. Best birds turned up in my garden, a Great spotted Woodpecker found my new £3.99 peanut feeder from Aldi very acceptable. Haven't had a Greater spot in the garden for several years so it was a pleasant surprise. A Sparrowhawk also visited but went away hungry.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Bittern at Brandon Marsh

Bittern, Brandon Marsh N.R.



Wednesday 10th February

It was a cold, cold day at Brandon even in the hide. People kept coming in and opening the shutters to watch the snow flakes hurl themselves against their eager faces. As the wind blew the snow even harder their enthusiasm drained and thoughts of Bitterns changed to thoughts of hot coffee and soup. The Image stabilizers on the cameras were put to the test as bodies shivered violently. Bittern watching was becoming a test of endurance. Max and Cath were old hands at the game. Well prepared with layer upon layer of insulation. Max had got hold of a government grant for the Duvet he was wearing and the cavity wall insulation in his Long Johns.
I have to say they stuck it out longer than I did and were rewarded with some great views of the Bittern although I did manage to get a few shots earlier.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Waders return to the Tame valley

Oystercatcher, Broomey Croft, Kingsbury W.P.

Redshank, Cliff pool

Tuesday 8th February 2010

Started the day at Cliff pool, Kingsbury. Before I'd got out of the car at Broomey Croft there was a new bird for the year in the form of an Oystercatcher in its usual position on the pontoon. There were a number of canoes ready for action so I guess it wouldn't be too long before it would be moving. A further 2 Oystercatchers were on the banks of the pool the other side of the canal. At Cliff pool there was a Little Egret, Redshank and single Shelduck. The walk to Sita hide produced only 3 Bullfinch. Along the canal to Fisher's Mill a Raven flew low over the canal side trees. Fishers Mill was scanned quickly as I felt the full force of an icy North East wind. I know I'm getting soft but even with gloves and woolly hat I was glad to get to the relative warmth of the canal towpath. A coffee at Middleton was very welcome before moving on to Coton where another Little Egret and a flock of c130 Lapwing were the only birds of note.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Cliff pool pulls one in.

Sunday 7th February 2010

It had the makings of a birdless weekend and very nearly was until Steve Cawthray phoned on Sunday afternoon to say there was a Pintail on Cliff pool, Kingsbury. Fortunately it was time to take my Dad home and Kingsbury was practically on the way. Having only seen the Middleton Pintails on the Drayton Bassett pits I was eager to catch up with the species in Warks. Its one of those species which, although the odd one or two occur in the County over the winter months, is nice to get in the bag. Or as they say in Leicestershire, 'Get in' me duck. The, me duck, being optional.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

England v Wales

Saturday 6th February 2010

Theres something about the 6 Nations thats completely different from any other Sporting occasion. I was brought up on it. I lived it. Ive been to Cardiff, Twickenham, Parc de Princs and Murrayfield. Each has its own disinctive atmosphere. I can only remember bits and pieces of the matches probably because I'd drunk too much Brain's, 80 shillings or wine, soaking up the pre match atmosphere. Magic memories. I shed a tear during the minutes applause for Bill Mclaren before todays game. He was so much about what was good about the game in my childhood. Every time the 6 Nations comes around it takes me back, particularly England v Wales. There was an era when the games were turgid affairs endless kicks for touch and Lineouts but then the flashes of brilliance from Jonathan Davis, Phil Bennett or Gerald Davies stood out even more.
I enjoyed todays game. It mattered. Tradition and expectations weighed heavily on both sides. So there were mistakes and a delicious uncertainty about the outcome. Not alot of cohesive attacking Rugby but total commitment. Was ever thus.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Some images from Stubbers Green,West Mids.

Glaucous Gull, Stubber's Green

Glaucous gull

Glaucous gull

Glaucous gull

Glaucous gull

Glaucous gull

Glaucous gull

Iceland Gull

Iceland gull
Friday 5th February 2010

Some images from Stubbers Green today. Both Iceland Gull and Glaucous Gull came in together early afternoon plus one Yellow legged Gull but no sign of any Caspian Gulls.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Egyptian Geese at Fisher's Mill

Wednesday 3rd February 2010

A bit of serious birding today so it was scope rather than camera as I find both a bit much. The plan was to check the geese round Bodymoor Heath and Amys on the of chance of the White fronts turning up again. As it was I did find some nearly wild geese up at Fishers Mill but not what I expected. When I got to Fisher's Mill pool there were 4 Egyptian geese, 3 adults and a juvenile on one of the islands. They stayed until I was joined by Steve Cawthray. There wasnt much else to see as the RSPB had work parties out in the middle of the reserve armed with loppers, they were busy pruning the remaining Sallows. We did see the usual couple of Little Egrets trying to find some peace and quiet and an impressive count of c400 Lapwing.
After checking out local Little Owl sites we ajourned to the Middleton Hall cafe or tea rooms as we birders like to call them. I was without Pork pie or any other sustainance. Decisions had to be made. Coffees yes fine that was easy but what to eat? Steve snuck in a Pork pie and proceeded to eat it. Poor form I thought. He looked a bit like a down and out from an American 30s movie swigging Whisky from a bottle in a brown paper bag ready to stuff it under the table in case Elliot Ness burst through the door. In the end, despite the intense guilt I went for the breakfast. It were right good, but I'd have to walk to the Moon and back to use up the calories I'd consumed. As I walked back, the canal towpaths were being manicured again and looked very tidy but I do prefer a bit of vegetation on the canal banks. No doubt the reeds and Irises will grow back again come the spring. The Redpoll flock, c30 was still in the canalside Alders towards Bodymoor Heath bridge.
PS There were 112 Shoveler on Canal pool, KWP

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Well done Steve

Common Buzzard, Middleton Hall

Common Buzzard
Common Buzzard

Tuesday 2nd February 2010

Congratulations to Steve Haynes for seeing 200 bird species in the month of January. Quite an achievement, although I personally think hes a bit mad, still if thats what floats your boat good luck to you. Anyway well done.
My 110 species in Warks. seems a bit meagre in comparison, even if I plod on all year in the County I'm not going to reach 200. The best County total I can come up with from WMBC records in recent years is 211 in 2007. If I can beat my previous best of 180 in 2001 I shall be well pleased.
So it was out in the rain looking for birds in the Tame valley. I met one bloke you said hed seen a single W F Goose flying towards Bodymoor Heath over the water park but all the geese I saw were the regular Canadas and Greylags on the deck. There was a Little Egret at Coton and 3 more around Drayton Bassett pools where there was a couple of Redshank but no sign of any Smew or Pintail. At Middleton Hall there was a Goldcrest and an obliging Common Buzzard catching worms.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Gulls at Stubber's Green, West Mids.

Iceland Gull, Stubbers Green nr.Walsall West Mids.

Caspian Gull

Iceland Gull

Iceland Gull

Iceland Gull

Iceland Gull

Garden Pheasant

Caspian Gull

Caspian Gull

Monday 1st February 2010

Bit of a surprise in the bedroom this morning, well not actually in the bedroom, from the bedroom. I almost had one, a garden tick that is. Looked out of the bedroom window and there sitting on my neighbour's fence was a cock Pheasant. The bird proceeded to do a tour of several gardens but refused to visit mine. Thats Garden Birding for you. Anyway I wasnt going to hang around on such a beautiful day. There were birds to be looked for, but where ? I fancied Stubbers Green, Walsall. Not Warwickshire I know but the prospects of some good Gulls at a reasonable viewing distance took me beyond Tamworth up the A5.
Clearly several birders had the same idea as a steady number came and went. The 2w Iceland gull showed well, but the attraction for most of the birders was finding a Caspian Gull. For many Caspian Gull is the Holy Grail of winter birding. Not because they're particularly rare but because for many like me they represent such an identification challenge. It was a chap from Drayton Bassett found a near adult Caspian gull.