Saturday, 28 January 2012

Stubber's Green revisited

Tree Sparrow, Whitemoor Haye, Staffs.
Caspian Gull, Stubber's Green, West Mids.

Saturday 28th January 2012

Back to Stubber's Green to check out the gulls. Quite a popular spot for Gull watching but unfortunately I just missed the near adult Iceland Gull. However, the Adult Caspian gull did put in an appearance and thankfully there were no ifs, buts or maybes about the ID. On the way back a short detour took me to Whitemoor Haye. I was joined by Mr TP who located the Little Owls and a decent flock of Tree Sparrows but there was no sign of any Corn Bunting.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Les's last Ding

Les's last Ding at the Church End Brewery Tap (photo courtesy of Mark Maddox)

Thursday 26th January 2012

Forgot that Thursday was work party day at Brandon Marsh. Lots of work going on so not much bird activity except Kingfisher and woodland species. The volunteers were certainly getting on with it so well done to them. The evening saw the last shift of Les Hall, well liked and respected barman at the Church End Brewery tap. Les has worked at the tap from its beginings in 2002 and has pulled alot of pints in that time. The Thursday club made a small presentation and our best wishes go with him. No doubt he will continue to frequent a variety of Real Ale pubs in the area.

Birding has been typically quiet locally: a few Shelduck and Common Snipe at Alvecote, Grey Wagtail on the river at Mancetter and the usual woodland species at Bentley Wood.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Warwickshire 13

Beer No. 13
Wednesday 25th January 2012

Thats it, job done. The Warwickshire 13 are in the bag. After a phone call and and dash across to Tamworth to complete my mission. Appropriate as my destination was the Flare-path (RAF) club. The urgency was that they didnt have much 'Merry miner' left, but in the event the barman put one by for me. The 5% porter isnt really to my taste but I enjoyed the club atmosphere with a skittles match going on. It will be the Warwickshire 14 next month when the Nelson Inn Brewery, Ansley starts production but I understand their first 'brew' wont be ready till the middle of February. So thats it, a bit of fun to start the year.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

One to go

Iceland Gull, Stubbers Green, West Mids,
Iceland Gull
Beer No 12, Byatt's

Tuesday 25th January 2012
Well I've strayed on to a slippery slope now. Drinking in Wetherspoon's at 10.30 am. I'd been ringing round a few breweries, as you do, to try and locate outlets for my last 2 Warwickshire independant breweries. The Byatt's brewery told me that the Felix Holt in Nuneaton town centre had it on. I rang the pub to confirm the report and was off. Bit like twitching really, once you know its there you've just got to go, you know it could go at any time and you dont how long you've got to wait before you get another chance. In the end it was a pleasant experience and at £2.15 a pint not an expensive one. Ironically the last brewery I need is the closest to home. Again it has very restricted outlets and seems to supply mainly private clubs, perhaps I'll have to start wearing a tie if I can find one.
After lunch the persistent rain eased off, so I decided to have another look at Stubbers Mill. There were far more large gulls about, including a near adult Iceland gull.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Answers on a postcard, please.

Mystery gull, Stubbers Green, West Mids.
Monday 23rd January 2012

Disappointing day at Stubbers Green, West Mids. Very few large gulls came down on the pool in the time I was there. Large numbers of gulls did circle over the old pit but only a few found their way to the pool. An Iceland gull was seen distantly in flight but that was it. A candidate for adult Caspian Gull was seen and discussed at length but although it showed a number of characteristics of Caspian, no one was very confident about its ID.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Night Heron in Warwickshire

Night Heron (of captive origin), Atherstone, Warks.
Night Heron
Night Heron - no more photos please

Saturday 21st January 2011

Reports of an adult Night Heron a few miles up the A5 at Atherstone created a bit of local interest even if was always likely to be of captive origin. The bird had been seen during the previous few days but news was slow to leak out as it was in an area with very limited access.

The bird was roosting in a tree over a drained section of the Coventry canal. Dave Hutton managed to get some close up shots of the birds metal ring which suggested it had been the 'property' of Arnhem Zoo in the Netherlands at some stage. For an 'escape' the bird had been about a bit and it would be fasinating to know the details of its travels thus far.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Ale Trail leads South

Beer No.10 from the Patriot Brewery, Whichford
A pint of Gnats....

Beer/Brewery No.11 The North Cotswold Brewery

Friday 20th January 2011
With heavy rain forecast for the day I took the opportunity to travel to the extreme South of Warwickshire in the quest to sample a beer from all the breweries in Warwickshire in January. The first target was The Norman Knight, home of the Patriot Brewery in the typical Cotswold village of Whichford right on the Oxfordshire border. I enjoyed a pint of 'Gnats....' ,which was anything but. The next target proved a nightmare. I first tried a pub just outside Shipston the nearest pub to the North Cotswold Brewery in fact. They had stocked it in the past but 'had problems'. I found the brewery itself at a farm to tried and get some more up to date information. I bought a couple of bottles just in case and moved on to Moreton in the Marsh as I was told there were a couple of pubs there that had it. They didnt. If the brewery staff didnt know where their beer went I'd got no chance. Looks like the bottled stuff is as near as I'm going to get.

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Sparrowhawk from inside the car
Beer No.9 -Saddleback bitter, Slaughterhouse Brewery

Slaughterhouse brewery

Wednesday 18th January 2012

Had a wander around Leamington Spa and would you Adam and Eve, it found a pub, The Woodlands Tavern, selling ale from the Slaughterhouse Brewery from Warwick. So just had to try one. It would have been rude not to really. The remaining Warwickshire breweries will prove more difficult as they are deep into the south of the county near the Gloucestershire border.

Thursday 19th January 2012

Popped into Broomey croft, Kingsbury to eat my lunch and was joined by a male Sparrowhawk on the lookout for his lunch. No camera of course, except my battered old phone so apologies etc but you get the idea.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Spanish sparrow in Hampshire

Spanish sparrow, Calshot, Hants.
Spanish sparrow

Spanish sparrow

Spanish sparrow

Dark eyed Junco, New Forest, Hants

Dark eyed Junco

Hawfinch, Blackwater Aboretum, Hants.

17th January 2012

Met Julian at Coleshill for a day out in Hampshire. After a familiarization of the New Forest excercise Julian and I ended up in Calshot. There were only a couple of cars in the car park when we arrived but we soon got our bearings and headed up the road where we were invited into the kitchen of one of the houses. Very similar situation to the Rufous Turtle Dove twitch last year. After a short wait the Spanish Sparrow appeared in the garden. A few more visitors arrived but the kichen was never crowded and everyone got excellent views thanks to the hospitality of the house owner. After a few snaps we were on the road again for a short drive to the site were a Dark eyed Junco had been seen. It finally appeared on some fallen pine trunks and showed well if rather more distant than the sparrow. It was also a good site to see Common Crossbill in the surrounding trees. To round off the day we went to the Blackwater Aboretum again just out of Beaulieu. It was supposed to be a good place to see Hawfinch during the late afternoon and so it proved as 6 birds were seen to fly in and perch in the tops of the tallest trees.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Beer today, tomorrow THE Sparrow !

Yesterday- Beer No 7 from the Wood farm Brewery
Beer No. 8, Atomic Brewery, Alexandra Arms, Rugby
Monday 16th January 2012

If I'm going to complete my Quest to sample a beer from all the independant breweries in Warwickshire in the month of January I've got to get a move on. I dont want it to become a chore, I would like to enjoy every pint, and so far I have. Trouble is I'm limited to a single pint as I'm driving and I dont want to be driving all over the county anyway. I could get organised if knew certain pubs stocks the same beers but many change their 'guest' beers constantly. Even the 'breweries' change. I went to the Alexandra Arms in Rugby today after a walk round Draycote (drake Smew still there). The brewery has been renamed the Atomic brewery and the much loved Petite Blonde brewed by the former Alexandra Brewery no longer exists. Similarly with the Nelson Inn brewery, formerly Tunnel brewery, which should commence brewing shortly. It all makes things complicated, but then its just a bit of fun. At the moment its 8 down 5 or 6 to go.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Tales of the River Bank

Chiffchaff, River Tame

A bit of 'Cool' photography


Beer No. 5 Pint from the WeatherOak Brewery

Beer No. 6 Pint of 'One of my Favourites, Griffon Inn Brewery

Giffon Inn Brewery

14th January 2012
Not a Water Vole in sight but a walk along the river at Dosthill/Middleton lakes did produce a Chiffchaff with a small flock of Chaffinch. Little else to report though on a fine frosty morning. It was a short walk as there were other things to be done but I did manage to squeeze in a visit to The Griffon Inn near Shustoke. What a gem, great atmosphere and terrific choice of Ales including their own brew and a beer from the WheatherOak brewery, Studley.

Friday, 13 January 2012

A bit of January sunshine

Kingfisher, Brandon Marsh N.R.
Bittern, over Newlands Brandon Marsh N.R.



Sunset from the A5, the only advantage of being stuck in Friday traffic on the A5 is that you can take a few shots from the car.

Friday 13th January 2012

Glutton for punishment or slow learner? I'm not quite sure which but I decided to give the Red breasted Merganser one more shot. I just have to keep telling myself that walking backwards and fowards from one side of Draycote Water to the other is good for me. Anyway no sign of said Merg. and no second prize, at Draycote anyway. Lovely day though after the early morning mist had cleared. The drake Smew was showing well but alot more mobile than yesterday. After a coffee at Morrison's it was on to Brandon Marsh for a late afternoon stint! I had to wait some time in Carlton hide before being rewarded by first a Kingfisher and then the real prize a Bittern, flying low over Newlands. It was distant but I gather sightings have been few and far between recently so it was an excellent end to the day.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Smew at Draycote Water

Thursday 12th January 2012

A day of 2 halves at Draycote Water today. First half of showers, drizzle and strong winds turning north westerly. Second half pleasant sunshine with a gentle breeze. I walked to the valve tower and back several times in the hope of seeing the Red breasted Merganser. No luck but then there were very few Goosander around the inlet. The drake Smew showed well at the Valve tower and the adult Iceland Gull was off Draycote Bank (duly reported). Other birds noted, Dunlin 2, Sparrowhawk, Bullfinch, Linnet.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Makeover for Cliff pool, Kingsbury Water park

Birthday Greetings
Wedenesday 11th January 2012

Spent most of the day trying to tidy up Cliff pool on Kingsbury Water Park with a group of volunteers that Steve Cawthray had got together. The remaining bit of the Park which is designated as a Nature Reserve gets very little attention and is becoming overgrown with Willow scrub leaving very little open shoreline for passage waders in particular. When my back told me it was time to go I popped into Dosthill Water Ski centre to check the bunds for Short eared Owls. Sure enough 2 birds were quartering the mounds and showed well.

PS You have to be 65 to appreciate the card

Monday, 9 January 2012

Glaucous Gull in Warwickshire

Glaucous Gull, juvenile -Lawford Heath
Glaucous gull

Glaucous Gull

Glaucous Gull

Glaucous gull, juvenile - just visible(honest) back,centre of flock

Beer No. 4 -Mad Goose Purity Brewery, Shilton Arms

Pint of Mad Goose

Monday 9th January 2012

Started the day with a circuit of Lawford Heath. A gathering of gulls could be seen distantly on one of the few 'green' fields, but with no real viewing point I moved on. A few Yellowhammers were seen near the farm but no sign of any Corn Bunting.

A walk round Draycote Water also produced very few birds, there was a small flock of Goosander but duck numbers seemed to be generally low, like the water level, and no sign of the hoped for Red breasted Merganser. There were few woodland species with only single Treecreeper, Sparrowhawk and Song Thrush. I decided to give the Heath another go. Good decision. At one point it was possible to view the gull flock, albeit distantly, over a couple of fields. Through a gap in the hedge sat a juvenile Glaucous gull. Outstanding. Even more outstanding when most of the flock got up and flew over my head back to the tip. I grabbed the camera and managed to get a few shots as the Glauc flew close by. All this excitement had given me a bit of a thirst so I popped into the Shilton Arms at Shilton on the way home for a pint of Mad Goose from the Purity Brewery.