Tuesday, 29 March 2011

More images from Brandon Marsh

Treecreeper, Brandon Marsh N.R.

Willow warbler Coot, 'I dont care if you have dragged it from the other side of Newlands, its not going in my nest. I said I wanted reeds not a bloody Christmas tree!'

Sand Martin

Not much time for birding today so a few more images from yesterday. Had a quick look round Kingsbury Water Park and had one of those, if only I'd got my camera with me moments when a Grass snake swam across the corner of Canal pool near the hide and then slithered up the bank a few yards away. Also popped in to the hide at Coton. I reckoned there was getting on for 100 Sand Martins over the water and a single Common Snipe in the reeds.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Spotted Crake at Brandon Marsh N.R.

Spotted Crake, Brandon Marsh N.R. - the bird remained in cover throughout the day, only showing for a brief period early morning and evening

Monday 28th March 2011

After a nine hour wait, not all of which was spent in the East Marsh hide, the Spotted Crake emerged from the Phragmites to the left of East Marsh hide. Other species seen during the day included Willow warbler ( first of the year), Cetti's warbler, Sand Martin C70, Little Egret, Oystercatcher 5, Kingfisher, Treecreeper, Redshank and LRPlover.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Nice bird shame about the Dustbin

Black Redstart, Draycote Water, Warks.

Sunday 27th March 2011

Friday, 25 March 2011

What a difference a day makes

Waxwing, one of seven at Ladywalk N.R.

Lesser spotted Woodpecker, Ladywalk

Lesser spotted Woodpecker

Pintail, Ladywalk N.R.



Wheatear, Merevale near Atherstone

Some images of a great days birding in North Warwickshire.
Another beautiful day, and the migrant watch finally paid off with a male Wheatear at Merevale. Checking the area yesterday produced a Peregrine circling high with the usual Common Buzzards. Back to Thursday and the other migrant watchpoints were quiet. It wasnt until reaching Ladywalk Nature reserve that things really livened up again with 7 Waxwings in trees near the Car Park putting on a show of fly catching skills which would have done a Spotted Flycatcher proud. I met up with Steve Cawthray and Julian Allan to tour the reserve where we found all three Woodpeckers, Curlew, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Little Egret, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Pintail, Goosander, and Cetti's warbler. A very enjoyable day's birding.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Not much to write home about.

Wednesday 23rd March 2011
Visited Brandon Marsh yesterday and saw a Little ringed Plover, a Sand Martin and a Cetti's warbler. The Sand martin was showing great interest in the artificial nest holes and it must be very satisfying for those who put so much effort into building and maintaining nesting sites for birds to see them being used so readily.

Today I only had enough time for a brief visit to Ladywalk where I managed to miss seeing about 6 Waxwings by as many minutes. There were 2 Green Sandpipers from Hide B and 3 Little Egrets. Several Goosander were seen in flight and Cetti's warblers were heard but not seen.

Put out the old Moth trap on Tuesday for a couple of hours. Plenty of Common Quaker but also trapped a new moth for the garden - the Satellite.

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Circus comes to 'the Mill'

Fisher's Mill, Middleton Lakes

The Moon, taken yesterday

Monday 21st March 2011

Nice day! After all the wailing and nashing of teeth yesterday I was up for a good days birding. After popping in to the Pie shop in Atherstone where I was served by a delightful girl with a slightly foreign accent and a smile that made you feel as though she meant it. I moved on to Merevale and Piccadilly, a few Meadow pipits were displaying and a good number of Butterflies : Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock and an Orange Underwing moth were on the wing. Coton, Whitacre Heath were quiet but the Green Sandpiper was still at Lea Marston with a Peregrine high up with the Buzzards overhead. It went downhill after that. The coffee shop at Middleton was closed. I dragged myself down to Fishers Mill to listen to the screaming Black headed gulls and watch what was going on. A bloke with a dog walked between the pools and a group of mountain bikers cycled round the pools, all we needed was the scramble bikes to appear or the local horse riders to turn up and the circus would be complete. I hope the RSPB can sort it out.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Keep the Faith

Bullfinch, Ladywalk N.R.

Skylark, Caldecote

Industrial landscape of North Warwickshire

Sunday 20th March 2011

Pretty depressing weekend. Sport wise it was a disaster. OK we know professional Sport isnt in the real world, particularly in relation to things that are happening right now in North Africa and Japan but a bit of escapism can provide some relief. Not if you support The Aston Villa FC, and England RU team that is -a double whammy of lack of purpose, leadership etc. etc.
Not to trivialise the devastation in Japan but I took a photo of the spread of warehousing in the Baddesley/Dordon area of North Warwickshire which reminded me of a tidal wave with all its flotsam spreading out over the countryside consuming land as it goes.

On a more positive note did get a new bird on my 800 list while dog walking this morning. Saw 2 pairs of Yellowhammers in hedges near where I live which is encouraging. The 800 list is birds seen within 800 metres of where I live. I dont actually have such a list but if the price of petrol keeps going up I may have to start one, or a 1 mile list or 5 mile list depending on how fit or not I'm feeling.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Another day another Woodcock

Chiffchaff, first of the year for me and one of four birds at Coton

Rather distant image of Spotted Redshank at Drayton Bassett pools. A far more elegant bird than the usual Common Redshanks. An excellent find for Julian Allen. Also on site were a pair of Little ringed Plover and a Dunlin.

I think I have a suspicious mind but is this weed or weeds, discarded at Coton.

What ever it is I go for a natural high and seeing a beautiful bird like a Spotted Redshank does it for me every time.
Thursday 17th March 2011
It seems to be a Woodcock year for me as they seem to pop up, quite literally everywhere. Today it was on the Piccadilly mounds near Kingsbury. Drew a complete blank at several other places before seeing up to four Chiffchaffs and a pair of Marsh tits at Coton pools. I eventually followed up Tom's message about the Spotted Redshank at Drayton Basett and teamed up with Steve's Cawthray and Haynes briefly to view the bird.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Yellow legged Gull, Kingsbury Water Park

Nr Adult Yellow legged Gull, Kingsbury Water Park

Yellow legged Gull

Yellow legged Gull

Yellow legged Gull

Yellow legged Gull

Oystercatcher, one of a large number currently in the Tame valley

Monday 14th March 2011

Another beautiful day to be out in the Warwickshire countryside. The day began well with c25 Golden plovers flying over the A5 as I approached Atherstone heading out for a days birding in the North of the County. A look at a few sites on route produced very little except the odd flock of Fieldfare with several Stock doves and Common Buzzards. No signs of any more migrants but as I approached the outer limits of the Tame valley the sightings of birders increased dramatically with several notables and the odd rarity( odd in the numerical sense). Tales of Chiffchaffs abounded but I have to say they elluded me all day. In fact I had very little to show for the days efforts. After a pleasant coffee in the sun at the courtyard,Middleton I decided to check out the larger pools at the Southern end of Kingsbury Water Park. Steve Cawthray had mentioned earlier he'd had a Yellow legged Gull on Body moor Heath Water, but I was more interested in looking for Hirundines. No Hirundines, but the near adult Yellow legged Gull provided some excellent opportunities for photography.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Migration Watch

Sand Martin, Coton - Ok not the quality you've become used to but a record shot nontheless
Saturday 12th March 2012

After a somewhat slow week around local haunts, in which my best bird was a Woodcock at Bentley, things livened up today. I was on the lookout for early migrants but drew a blank in the Merevale/Grendon Common area. Coton was also quiet with few birds on the water but I did pick up my first summer migrant of the year with a single Sand Martin which showed off and on for the 20 or so minutes I was there. I moved on to check the patches of rough ground around Hams Hall before going to Ladywalk but as a coach was disgorging its contents of eager birdwatchers and blocking the entrance anyway I decided to give it a miss. I was desperate for a coffee and a sandwich at this point so a quick trip to ASDA at Tamworth was called for. I say at this point, but it may well have been after a profitable trip to Lea Marston with a fine male Stonechat from the river bridge and Little Egret, Oystercatcher, 40 Wigeon and a Green Sandpiper from the Railway bridge. Anyway, despite the confusion of the order of sites visited I'm sure my final port of call was Fishers Mill. More Oystercatcher and a Redshank on the pool and a Brambling amongst a mixed flock of Yellowhammer, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch, and Chaffinch in the hedges adjacent to the track. So no less than 4 new self found birds for the list, OK not exactly Mega species but still satisfying to find in Warwickshire.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Exploring the lower reaches of the Tame Valley

Mealy Redpoll, Whitacre Heath



Mealy Redpoll

Mealy Redpoll

Mealy Redpoll


Female Lesser spotted Woodpecker

Lesser spotted Woodpecker

Lesser spotted Woodpecker

Peregrine, Hams Hall

Tuesday 8th March 2011

Another glorious day and unlike yesterday I was determined to make a day of it. I did bits and pieces yesterday : Caldecote, Wishaw and Kingsbury Water Park but never really got going. So the plan was to have a good look round the southern end of the Tame valley today. Piccadilly, Coton, Ladywalk, Hams Hall, Whitacre Heath. The most productive site was Whitacre Heath N.R., in addition to the usual feeding station birds there were up to 3 Mealy Redpolls, Lesser spotted Woodpecker, Curlew and an Oystercatcher over the road. A pair of Peregrine Falcons were seen over the big Warehouse units at Hams Hall.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Thursday Club on Tour

Impressive display of Ales on offer at The Merchant's Inn, Rugby
The Thursday Club at the Merchants Inn
Saturday 5th March 2011

The eight stalwarts of the Thursday gentleman's drinking Club, Church end Brewery Chapter met at the appointed hour on platform 5 of Nuneaton station. We tried to blend in with the normal comings and goings like characters in the station scene in 'The Great Escape'. We failed. Together with our CAMRA representative and guide, 'The Brigadier' aka Les, we boarded the 3.05 to Rugby.

With Les striding on ahead we made our way to our first stop, The Alexandra Arms for a very enjoyable pint of their own brew, the appropriately named Alex Ale - Petit Blonde. Our next stop was a quaint little pub called The Squirrel where I tried a pint of Cross Buttocks from the Jennings Brewery in Cumbria. Most of the group went for Dowbridge Porter from the more local Dowbridge Brewery. Having enjoyed the hospitality of a very welcoming host we moved on to the main event, a very interesting and civilised drinking house, the Merchant Inn with an impressive selection of Real Ales. I started with a pint of Lookout from the Hook Norton Brewery before moving on to the highly recommended Bishop's Farewell, from the Oakham Brewery. The conversation and wit never slowed and time passed quickly. It was soon time to move on again for the traditional curry before catching the train back. It had been an most successful outing and hopefully the Thursday Club will venture forth again to discover the delights of other Midlands towns in the future.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Ducks at Draycote Water

Immature Drake Scaup, Draycote Water,Warks.

Female Scaup




Drake Smew

Friday 4th March 2011

A visit to Draycote Water was long overdue so with lunch packed and batteries charged I set off on another gloomy day. The long staying Scaup were located just off the Windsurfing area and a large raft of Common gulls were off the inlet. 3 grey Wagtails were very active along Draycote bank with 12 Goosander offshore. As I approached the valve tower the sun broke through the cloud and the weather steadily improved from then on. By the time I'd walked back to the Sailing club and then round to Toft Bay it was a glorious day. The drake Smew was off Farborough bank and another group of 17 Goosander were in the bay with a handful of Goldeneye.
Even with unbroken cloudless skies there were few visitors but a women with a couple of dogs(later spoken to by a Ranger) and a bloke who shouted 'BANG' as he appraoched on his racing bike were a little irritating. I met up with Dave Hutton and Bob Hazel on Hensborough bank. The Scaup were now quite close in to shore, but asleep, only occasionally waking for a quick preen and then rest again from the exertion. With patience we all managed to get a few reasonable images.