Sunday, 29 April 2012

Green winged Teal at Blithfield Reservoir

Saturday 28th April 2012
Common Crane, Radford Meadows, Stafford
Common Crane
Common Crane
Common Crane
As I had to go to Staffordshire anyway I thought I'd drop in to Blithfield Reservoir which can produce some good birds at this time of the year. There was a gusty wind but thankfully no rain as I walked round Blithe and Tad bays. 4 Arctic terns and a couple of Common tern were seen off Beech tree point but not much else. After lunch back at the car I decided to have another look at Tad Bay. This time the Green winged Teal showed well at the northern end of the bay. As a bonus an Osprey circled overhead before dropping to take a fish.The bird sat in water for a couple of seconds before lifting itself and its prey into the air. A great sight but unfortunately no camera at hand to capture the moment. With news that the Common Crane was still present just up the road at Stafford I decided to move on and leave Cannock Chase for another day. With a bit of local help the Crane was located on the flooded flood meadows. This time the camera was able to capture a few distant images.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Whimbrel at Alvecote pools

Friday 27th April 2012
In between a day's house clearing and meeting friends of the Thursday Club at the Church End Brewery tap it was possible to get in a bit of birding at Alvecote pools yesterday. Not enough time to bird the whole area properly but the Whimbrel which had been around Mill Pool was still there, in the middle of a large cultivated field next to Teal pool. There was also about 8 Swifts over Mill pool, my first of the year.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Black winged Stilts in the West Midlands

Thursday 26th April 2012
Black winged Stilt, Clayhanger Marsh, West Mids. Images courtesy of Phil Ward
Phil Ward has kindly sent me a couple of excellent images of the Black winged Stilts which turned up at Clayhanger Marsh, Brownhills last week. Unfortunately the birds only stayed for one day before probably moving on to Leighton Moss in Lanchashire.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Alan Amery

Wednesday 25th April 2012
Somewhat belatedly I'd like to add a few words of my own to the many tributes to Alan Amery who sadly died very recently. Alan from Derbyshire was a real birding enthusiast who took almost as much joy from meeting old friends,of which he had many, as he did from seeing a rare bird. I had the pleasure of meeting him on many occasions when a good bird turned in the Midlands and on 'twitches' around the country. He was always the same, you were always sure of a genuinely warm greeting and a cheerful smile. I will miss him.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Monday 23rd April 2012 - St George's Day

I regard myself  as a bit of a Patriot but I have to admit I celebrated St Georges Day by accident. I'd been to have another look at the Ring Ouzel at Baxterley but on the way back through the village I noticed a notice (which had achieved its purpose as I'd noticed it) informing me that the local pub The Rose was having a Beer Festival to mark St Georges Day. Well if they'd gone to all that trouble it would be rude not to pop in for a swift half. They certainly had an impressive array of beers, mostly from small independant breweries. The one which caught my eye was Abduction from the Dancing Duck brewery in Derby.
Meanwhile back to the birding; in addition to the Ring Ouzel I'd also seen my first Merlin and first Cuckoo of the year. Further cause for celebration dont you think?
Ring Ouzel, Baxterley
Ring Ouzel
Ring Ouzel
Ring Ouzel

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Ode to a Nightingale

Saturday 21st April 2012
At the moment the score is 4-1. Four Nightingales heard in Warwickshire but only one actually seen properly- but isnt it just great just to hear them sing. The one at Brandon Marsh today never really got into its full repertoire in the middle of the afternoon but even so the sounds coming from the depths of the dense cover around Teal pool were 'quality'. I think John Keats would have approved.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Ring Ouzels in Baxterley,North Warks.

Ring Ouzel, Baxterly
Friday 20th April 2012
The plan was to work my way North towards Sutton Coldfield via 'the lakes' - Shustoke, Coton, Kingsbury. Nothing doing at Shustoke so moved on towards Coton but had to do a bit of a uturn when I got a message from Steve Haynes saying that he'd found a Ring Ouzel at Baxterley. The male Ouzel proved quite elusive, rarely emerging from various hedges except to fly to another hedge. Eventually we were able to confirm there were in fact a pair of Ring Ouzels with the female proving even more elusive than the male until later in the afternoon.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Black winged Stilts reach the Midlands

Common Tern, Shustoke Res
Thursday 19th April 2012
Is there anything more irritating than shopping in M&S with your wife in Tamworth when the pager tells you there are a couple of Black winged Stint just up the A5 at Clayhanger Marsh. I mean, all those wonderful clothes to look at and touch, the wonderful experience of wandering around the endless aisles of tops and bottoms, ladies and gents unmentionables and lots of other stuff you dont really need but M&S devotees will buy them anyway. I would have to leave all this to stand in a muddy swamp in the pouring rain to see a couple of overshoots from southern Europe. But then as a birder you've got to make sacrifices sometimes. I found the 'swag' more by luck than Sat Nav and joined a small group of local birders admiring the birds at quite close range. The brown tinged backs of the birds indicating they were probably immatures.There was also a summer plummaged Black tailed Godwit on site which I almost overlooked in my haste to see the Stilts. If the birds are still there today its advisable to take Wellington boots as the path are very wet and muddy.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Where there's Muck........

Common Redstart, CaldecoteCommon RedstartCommon Redstart
Wednesday 18th April 2012
Where there's muck theres a good chance there will be birds about. So it proved at the Riding stables near Caldecote. The Common Redstart was still present today with a particular liking for a pile of Horse dung. Problem was the local Robin had 'claimed' the heap and was very aggressive towards any other birds which tried feeding there. The heavy showers also made good viewing difficult at times but the showers also made the chances of finding other migrants that much better. Yesterdays Arctic Tern was clearly the forerunner to a much bigger movement today and the chances of finding other palaegic species looked good. At Shustoke Res. a 1w Little gull was at the far end but there was no sign of the Arctic tern reported earlier in the day. The search continued at Coton and the southern lakes of Kingsbury Water Park. A Yellow wagtail was on Mill meadow at the extreme eastern fringe of the Water Park but that was about it.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The search continues

Good numbers of returning birds in the Tame valleyWillow Tit, Cliff pool,Kingsbury
Tuesday 17th April 2012
Started at the Anchor near Hartshill and checked the bushes and pastures next to the Coventry canal, unfortunately I didnt go as far as the riding stables where a Redstart was found later in the day. The old slag heaps at Piccadilly was the next spot but only produced Skylark and Meadow pipit. Fortunes changed at Coton pools with an Arctic tern and a large flock of Sand Martin and Swallows. At Kingsbury Water Park there was nothing of note on the larger pools and just a couple of Little Egret and a single Little ringed plover Cetti's warbler and Willow Tit on Cliff pool.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A few beers and a few birds

Wheatear, Alvecote Pools, Staffs.WheatearCommon SandpiperWillow warbler
Monday 16th April 2012
Highlight of the weekend was the Thursday Club's annual outing. This year we visited Oakham, Rutland and very pleasant it was to. The day got off to a good start with great views of a Red kite next to the track not far from Melton Mowbray. Our first stop was the Grainstore Brewery tap conveniently located next to the station where I went for Triple Brew. The next stop was the Lord Nelson pub with an impressive array of beers on offer. I tried Sunmarillo from the Hopshackle Brewery and Blackwatch from Harviestoun brewery both very acceptable. After a look in at the Wheatsheaf for a pint of Everards Beacon it was time to stock up for a Pork pie lunch before returning to the Lord Nelson to watch the Grand National with a pint of Harvest Pale from the Castle Rock Brewery. The day concluded with the traditional curry before it was back to the station for the train home.
On Monday it was catch up time as I hadnt had the opportunity to see many migrants over the previous week. The morning was spent in an area between Caldecote and Hartshill. A few Willow warblers were seen and the first Yellow wagtail was in a canalside field. After lunch I looked around the Alvecote pools area which produced another 2 year birds: a pair of Wheatear and a Common Sandpiper at the Pretty Pigs pool.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Alvecote pools

Friday 13th April 2012
A quick look round Mill Pool, Alvecote produced my first House Martin of the year in a flock of Swallows and Sand martins commuting between Mill pool and Pretty Pigs pool. A Green Sandpiper was also seen. Also yesterday the first Swallow over the garden

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Garden Birds

Song Thrush, GardenSong Thrush
Tuesday 10th April 2012
Since the excitement of the Thayer's twitch opportunities for birding have been rather limited. The Song Thrushes in the back garden providing most of the interest with the return of a few Greenfinches which have been absent from the garden for some time. No gull movement now, but Grey Herons and Mallard have been quite active recently.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

A very Good Friday

Friday 6th April 2012
Anyday you see a bird you've never seen before is a good day. Even if its a Gull and even if its not a proper species. Debate will rage as to the status of Thayer's Gull but as gulls go the juvenile frequenting various fields around Brigg, Lincolnshire was an interesting bird and well worth seeing. Tony Shepherd and Neil Howes picked me up on the M69 and we travelled north. The bird had been showing since early morning on the Friday and we'd had regular updates as we approached the area. A group of cars on the side of the road indicated we were in the right sort of area but as some birders we getting back into their cars and driving off we decided to follow them it was a good move, we passed several birders who were on foot trying to be somewhere else but we carried on and ended up down a farm track where another group of cars were parked up. We could see a group of Gulls in an adjacent grassy field and a 2oo yard jog/walk took us to the viewing point. The Thayer's was sitting in the grass facing away but soon started to walk around before preening giving excellent views for 20 minutes or so before taking off with the flock and slowly circling above us and drifting away. Outstanding. All we want now is for an American Herring Gull to be as obliging.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Birding on the run

Whooper Swan, Coton. Images courtesy of David HuttonWhooper Swan
Wednesday 4th April 2012
Birding has been limited to the odd hour here and there this week but did manage to see the Whooper Swan at Coton on the way back from somewhere and had a fruitless look for the Great grey Shrike near Baddesley. Other birds have been Swallow at Coton with 50 Sand Martin, 2 Swallows at Shustoke with 2 or 3 Sand Martin. 2 Shelduck were also at Coton, with Redshank, LRP, 2 Green Sandpiper and a White wagtail near Kingsbury.