Monday, 31 May 2010

Scilly photos

Manx Shearwater - Isles of Scilly

Manx Shearwater


Monday 31st May 2010

Just a couple of images that my wife Jan and Gill her sister took when they found themselves in the middle of a flock of Manx Shearwaters last week. I dread to think the shots they would have had with a proper camera.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Rip - off

Recently fledged Coal tit in the garden

Sunday 30th May 2010

Had a very pleasant afternoon at a Charity Cricket match at Nether Whitacre and popped into the Horse and Jockey at Bentley on the way back to support their Beer Festival. Very disappointed, indeed had the sort of experience that puts you off such events. I had a half of some very average brew I'd never heard, of no problem there but the liquid came well below the mark and when I asked for a top up I was refused. Couldn't even manage a splash for good customer relations, that plus being over charged really left me feeling cheated. Needless to say I wont be going to the Horse and Jockey again.
With the addition of Black necked Grebe and Sanderling at Draycote and Honey Buzzard at Shustoke this week the unofficial total number of species in Wawickshire in 2010 = 178.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Possible Quail near Shustoke

Saturday 29th May 2010

With a few good birds turning up Nationally at last and with heavy rain forecast I visited sites at the Southern end of the Tame valley this morning in the hope something might have turned up. As far as I could see nothing had. I did have one moment though. Driving towards Coleshill half way between the Griffon Inn and the cottages before Shustoke a small partridge type bird flew low across the road in front of me. I cant imagine a young Partridge flying like that so there is the possibility it may have been a Quail. The size, bulk and whirring wings looked good. It might be worth regular Shustoke Res. birders listening out around the fields to the South of the Reservoir.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Farne Islands? Fishers Mill

Thursday 27th May 2010

On the way back from a day out with my Dad we were approaching the TV Masts near Four Oaks when a Raptor appeared low over the wheat fields. Luckily there was a handy pull in so it was possible to watch the bird, clearly an adult female Marsh Harrier, at close range. It was mobbed by a Kestrel and gained height before moving off towards Tamworth. I should add the paging service made a complete cock-up of my message as Meriden was never mentioned so Ive no idea where that came from.
After leaving Sutton I stopped off at Middleton for a quick look round Fisher's Mill pool. My first job was to explain to a couple of blokes that it (the pool) was part of a Nature reserve and that they should refrain from throwing stones to encourage their dog to forage about in the reeds. Thankfully they moved on without any fuss.
As I scanned the pool from the bench I was aware that a particularly noisey Black headed Gull was showing an unusual interest in me. It got lower and lower, dive bombing like an Arctic tern on the Farne islands. I was nowhere near any potential nesting sight so why it took such a dislike to me I dont know. It should have directed its attentions to a marauding Jay which was taking eggs from Reed warbler nests. The Kamakazi gull made sure I was off the premises, following me over the Canal bridge and along the path until I was in the wood. Just past the farm another predator, a Sparrowhawk flew low, mobbed by Swallows from the farm, but hanging on to the unfortunate Blue tit it had caught. The Sparrowhawk chicks would be fed but the Blue tit chicks would go hungry.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Ryton Woods,Warwickshire

Wood White, Ryton Woods

Green Hairstreak

Common Blue

Grizzled Skipper

Dingy Skipper

Wednesday 26th May 2010
Visited Ryton Woods managed by the Warwickshire Wildlfe Trust and the adjacent Ryton Woods meadows, a Butterfly Conservation project. The main aim was to see a Wood White which have always eluded me in the past. I was fortunate to meet up with Mo and Terry Southgate, we eventually found a single Wood white and many other species of Butterfly on the fringes of the meadow area.
The plan was to then visit Brandon Marsh after a cup of tea at Morrisons. Half way through my cuppa I got a call from Mick Doughty about a pair of summer plummaged Black necked Grebes at Draycote Water. On arrival Draycote was strangely quiet, no birders and very few people around at all. I walked to the valve tower- no sign of the Grebes. I walked back and on to Toft, again no sign of the Black necked Grebes. Apart from the regular birds I only saw a couple of Yellow Wagtails and about 50 Common Swift. I'd got a bit of exercise which is always a good thing but it was frustrating not knowing where the birds had been seen. Its good that people take the trouble to put out information on interesting birds but at a place like Draycote with no vehicular access the information needs to be a bit more specific than just Draycote Water. Ok birds fly around but a location would give you a starting point and save a lot of shoe leather. On the drive home I saw another Hobby hawking over the junction of Nutts Lane and the A5.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Just imagine

Waved Umber, Garden

Scalloped Hazel, Garden

Pale Tussock

Lime Hawk moth

Clouded Silver

Funny old day really. Never really got into me birding. Had an extended walk from Caldecote to Hartshill. Didnt see much on route with Kingfisher, Yellow wagtail and Linnet being the most noteworthy birds. At one point my imagination took over when a Mini bus apparently full of women drove into a field ahead of me followed by an estate car. There were no roads or even tracks as the vehicles disappeared ahead of me and were lost to view behind bushes and trees. What were they up to in the middle of nowhere? I caught a glimpse of the group again, at first I thought they might be planning some sort of Amateur film making session. I was minding my own business you understand but I did notice through the binoculars that one or two people were carrying bits of important looking bits of paper and a certain amount of pointing was going on. I was intrigued in a casual sort of way. Was whatever they were doing worth wrecking the suspensions on 2 vehicles for? Then it dawned on me - they might be local government officials looking at proposals for new rights of way in the area. That would account for the large number of people involved, the paper and the casual approach to car welfare. Yes, ticks all the boxes, the puzzle was solved. I continued on my merry way imagination on stand by mode.

With not many birds to photograph I've included a few shots of some of the moths around this week.
P.S. Lucky bugger of the week award goes to Steve Cawthray who had a Honey Buzzard fly over his head at Shustoke Res. this evening.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Woodcock at last

Monday 24th May 2010

At the fifth attempt I finally managed to see a roding Woodcock (153) at Bentley Woods. I go every year, stand in the same place, same time in mid May and watch and listen to the birds fly over. This year it was hard work, I dont know why, maybe the cold weather up till now. Anyway flushed with success I ventured forth to the Tame valley via various locations to look for Spotted Flycatchers. News of 4 wader type birds at the Drayton Bassett pits meant aborting the Flycatcher search and heading off north to the Badlands. At Middleton I dutifully followed the new Woodland trail before checking out the Fishers Mill pits. It didnt take long so I moved over the border to discover the delights of the North end of the RSPB reserve. I met Geoff Williams on the way who said there had been a 'fall' of waders on the Drayton Bassett pits. I must explain at this point that any number of birds over 1 is considered to be a fall in the Tame valley. So a total of new 12 birds of 3 different species must be considered a Mega fall. I was greeted by John Harris who had found one Sanderling and a Ruff. The Ruff was in fine breeding plummage but the Sanderling was proving elusive amonst the mounds of earth in the centre of the scrap. There were also several Ringed Plovers. We eventually pinned down the Sanderling.
Finally congratulations to Tom and Cheryl on the birth of their daughter today Best wishes to all the family.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Black patch

Sunday 23rd May 2010
After the recent Purple patch, this week could be described as a Black patch in terms of birding. Wader passage in the whole County has been minimal and I cant remember a May with so few National rarities. Perhaps everything is late this year and the best is yet to come. It must be bad if I find myself taking an interest in the garden at this time of the year and even worst giving the car its annual wash. I wash my car as regularly as clockwork once every year whether it needs it or not!
Dropped into Brandon Marsh yesterday on the way back from Stratford, alot of warbler song which was great but a single Redshank was the only newcomer as far as I was concerned. There had been a report of Spotted Flycatcher but despite our best efforts Max and I couldn't locate it. After sitting out the heat of the day I tried Coleshill GPS and Ladywalk N.R. in the early evening but drew a blank in terms of new arrivals. So 'today I shall mostly be doing gardening', unless I can find any excuse not to.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Wood warblers in Cannock Chase

Wood warbler, Cannock chase

Wood warbler

Wood warbler

Wood warbler
Wood warbler

Wood warbler

Brown silver lines

Monday 17th May 2010
I like Cannock chase, but you do have to choose your time carefully. Avoid weekends if you can, easier said than done I know but essential if you dont want to be mown down by adrenalin junkies on bikes. Rain is good to, keeps the dog walkers closer to their cars. Actually it not that difficult to find a quiet spot even in the Seven springs / stepping stones area.
The emphasis today is on Wood warblers. I did see Common Redstart, 3 males and a female but no Flycatchers of any description. Wood warblers seem to have made a recovery in terms of numbers after a couple of poor years and they were performing well today.
I gather that the Sherbrook valley suffered a serious fire over the weekend, probably as a result of Arson. Its to be hoped that a number of senstive species survived and will be able to colonise other areas!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Oriental Pratincole in Lincolnshire

Oriental Pratincole, Frampton RSPB, Lincs.

Oriental Pratincole

Oriental Pratincole

Oriental Pratincole

Oriental Pratincole

Oriental Pratincole

Oriental Pratincole and Little Gull


Corn Bunting

Sunday 16th May 2010

Frampton is a RSPB managed reserve in the Lincolnshire fens not far from The Wash. It is an excellent facility and a pleasure to visit. Having said that there were rather alot of visitors on Saturday, attracted by the presence of an Oriental Pratincole. The hides were difficult, crammed with people determined to see whatever species was called out. There are though, plenty of wader/plover/duck friendly scrapes and islands to scan outside the hides.
After parking up Julian Allen and I walked around to get our bearings. People were scattered all over the place so there was no obvious best view point for the Pratincole which seemed to be in the centre of a large Cow pasture. We saw a Northern Wheatear and Yellow wagtail before making our way back to to east side of the reserve where most of the scrapes were located. When we got to the East Hide the Oriental Praticole was flying around what seemed to be its favoured location, frequently landing on an island in front of the hide. After filling our boots we checked out the other hides. Although not in big numbers there was an interesting variety of waders with a Temminck's Stint and Wood Sandpiper leading the cast. Other species included Dunlin, Black tailed Godwit, Avocet, Turnstone and Ruff. A drake Garganey and drake Pintail brightened up the pool in front of the visitors centre and a Marsh Harrier flew over high. It was also good to see a number of Corn Bunting on site.
So after a few hours very enjoyable birding in the sun we moved on to Ilkeston to see the Great Reed warbler. It was again very difficult but Julian managed to get some acceptable views but it was never 'showing well' while we were there.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Great Reed Warbler in Derbyshire

Great Reed Warbler, Ilkeston, Derbys

Great Reed Warbler

Great Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler for comparison

Great Reed Warbler

Amore typical view

Great Reed Warbler

Friday 14th May 2010

Took a trip up the M1 to Ilkeston, Derbys. to have a look at the 'showy' Great Reed Warbler at Straw's Bridge ponds just outside the town. Well, it might have showed well yesterday and it might have showed well before I got there but it sure didnt show well during the several hours I was there. It flew about a bit and sang alot but rarely showed. Apart from when it flew it only climbed up the reeds once when I took a few photos. Most of the time it stayed low and deep in cover in a small reedbed.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Temminck's Stints at Coleshill Gravel pits

Temminck's Stint, Coleshill G.Ps

Temminck's Stint

Temminck's Stint

Temminck's Stint

Red legged Partridge, Ham's Hall

Wednesday 12th May 2010

The forecast of heavy showers encouraged me to get out and look for waders in particular. After such a spectacular day yesterday I went for the Tame valley again. Shustoke res. had 2 Common terns and a lot of Hirundines low over the water. I checked out Coleshill, the Wood Sandpiper was still there but no new birds. Coton was quiet with a single Common tern as was Cliff pool, Kingsbury again with just a couple of Common tern and a Little ringed plover. Middleton lake also had a couple of Common tern. After a coffee at the Courtyard it was time to have a look at Fishers Mill. I wasn't optimistic about finding much as the work parties had been out. There was a Hobby over the 2 Fishers Mill pools but nothing else of note.
I popped in to ASDA at Tamworth for a few bits and bobs and while I was at the check out Steve Cawthray rang to say there were 3 Temminck's Stints (152) at Coleshill Gravel pits. Checkouts can be tricky enough but getting news of a good local bird puts great demands on your concentration. The girl was very understanding and luckily there was none else in the queue as I struggled to complete my transaction.
Temminck's Stint is one of the rarer wader visitors to Warwickshire so to see 3 together was outstanding.
Total of bird species reported in Warks. in 2010 = 175

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Purple patch

Marsh Harrier, Coleshill GPs

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Grey Plover

Grey Plover

Grey Plover

Grey Plover
Tuesday 11th May 2010

I still favour Marsh, but that was yesterday, another day another bird. Well 3 actually. After bemoaning the lack of shore birds through Warwickshire we have a positive deluge with birds at Draycote and Coleshill. I started at Coleshill where the Grey Plover was showing well and had reached an understanding with the local Lapwings. I was joined by Brian Kington who picked up another wader in flight. It landed some distance away and as neither of us had scopes it took a little while before we were sure we had a Wood Sandpiper (15o). To return the favour I picked up a Marsh Harrier (151), probably 2nd summer male flying low towards us along the embankment. It headed off in the direction of Ladywalk N.R. where there have been a number of sightings of Marsh Harrier recently.
Total number of species reported in Warks. so far in 2010 = 174