Sunday 29th December 2013
Having been sort of house-bound for the previous week the opportunity to see a 'mainland' Brunnich's Guillemot couldnt have come at a better time. I joined Dave Abbott, Steve Lister and John Terry for the drive down to Portland harbour. Early news that the bird was still there was encouraging but there was no further positive news until we reached Weymouth. Having parked up at the conveniently placed car park it was only a matter of walking a few yards before we got our first views of the bird sheltering in the lee of a boat against the strong wind. We joined the mass of birders for a closer look at the bird among the boats. Squalls of rain came and went but there was a great atmosphere as birders enjoyed this rare opportunity. It was good to see so many friends from the Midlands in particular. Unfortunately the poor light made photography quite tricky, for me anyway. In due course the Brunnich's became more mobile moving around the bays within the harbour. At one point it joined a Common Guillemot and a Razorbill. Other birds seen in the harbour included Black Guillemot, Shag, Red breasted Merganser and Black throated Diver.
Tuesday 17th December 2013
This week has been a mixture of a bit of local birding and the continuing quest to get good views of Parrot Crossbills. On Monday spent much of the day in the Tame valley: Coton was notable for Coots and Bullfinches, at Kingsbury numbers of Wigeon and Goldeneye continue to increase while a walk around Middleton Lakes produced a Great White Egret, 3 Little Egrets and a Grey Wagtail.
On Tuesday I took the opportunity to have another go for the Parrot Crossbills at Budby in Nottinghamshire. My attempts to get there early were thwarted by traffic holdups but I arrived on site eventually to find clear skies and about 50 birders. It was after a 1 and a half hour wait that the birds eventually came in.The small flock landed in the nearest tree to where most of the group were standing and then a few dropped down to drink in a puddle on the track. They didnt stay long and were not seen again for another 3 hours at least. Whether the proximity of some of the onlookers had effected their stay is difficult to say.
Parrot Crossbills, Budby, Notts.
Another great sight was 2 large skeins of Pink footed Geese heading east at some height. In excess of 250 birds were seen on this regular flyway for Pink feet.
Saturday 14th December 2013
Another day, another venture to the extremities of the Midlands for a new bird. I was close to overdosing on Parrot Crossbills have seen them in Kent and Norfolk recently but the lure of a Midlands tick was too great to ignore.
Having parked up in Budby village we: Dave Abbott and Steve Lister and myself walked the mile to the assembled birders on the heath. The birds had been seen an hour or so before but no sign since then. A familiar scenario. Timed passed, but with the distraction of a nearby Great grey Shrike it was no problem to wait
Great grey Shrike, Budby Common, Notts.
Until the nomadic urge to go find the Crossbills took over that is. Big mistake. It's cost me before (Black Stork in Scotland and Azure tit in Finland come to mind) and no doubt it will cost me again. In the short time I was away not only had The Parrot Crossbills appeared they had come down to drink a matter of a few yards from the assembled birders, walkers, curious onlookers etc. Aargh.
Wednesday 11th December 2013
A nice Midlands tick today in the form of a Hume's Yellow browed warbler at Kelmarsh Hall in Northants. Having applied for access arrangements for viewing were very well organised by the finder Neil McMahon. The bird was extremely mobile and quite difficult to watch, often high up in the trees. The bird called frequently which was a great help in locating it as it moved around its 'circuit'.
Tuesday 10th December 2013
The birding day started with a walk along hedges near Witherley to look for Tree Sparrows. No sign so I moved on to Middleton Lakes. There was a Nuthatch on the feeders and flocks of both Redwing and Fieldfare around the Car park and around the canal. The pair of Stonechat were in their usual area and a couple of Little Egrets were seen but not much else. A Pink footed Goose was reported but I didnt see it which was annoying. Highlight of the day was a Grey Heron catching a Pike which it managed to swallow.Would have produced some interesting photos if it hadnt been so far away!
Stonechats on a fence, Middleton Lakes RSPB, Staffs
Grey Heron with Pike
Grey Heron with Mallards showing a lot of interest
4th December 2013
Took a trip up the M6 with Dave Abbott and Steve Lister to hopefully see a Baikal Teal which had taken up residence in the creeks and channels of the Salt marsh just north of Southport near the Marshside Nature reserve. We joined 20 or so other birders on the flood relief bank and started working through the Wigeon, Teal and Mallards in the main channel. No sign. The bird had been seen earlier but there was no sign now. A Great White Egret could be seen in the distance along with flocks of Pink footed Geese but with a fresh head wind and eyes watering, finding the Teal would be more difficult. It wasn't too long though before the bird was relocated amongst a large flock of Wigeon. It was quite distant and would require a 20 minute walk to get decent views.The extra walk was well worth it though, although the bird did spend much of its time asleep on a grassy bank. Whatever the decisions on the likely origins of the bird it was a smart looking duck when it did wake up and show itself properly.
Hi,I've lived and worked in Warwickshire all my life, now retired my lifelong interest in wildlife is now my main hobby. Birding in particular both local, national and in the Western Palearctic region is a major interest. I am very happily married to Jan and have two great kids Rachel and Paul,and 2 beautiful grandchildren
Birding lists(All BOU),
Old Warks 255,
Western Palearctic 733.(Netfugal)