Thursday, 25 September 2014

Life in the Slow lane

Wednesday 24th September 2014
First stop of the day was at Shustoke. Dave H. had reported a juvenile Arctic tern. With fresh winds and heavy showers forecast it seemed as good a spot as any for migrating birds to turn up.Unfortunately it appeared that a hungry Peregrine had beaten me to the Tern. I probably would have witnessed the event if I hadnt got caught up in a new improved holdup on the A5. There was another Ruff and the juvenile Ringed Plover from yesterday, plus a confusing Wagtail looking like a White wagtail with pale grey mantle and flanks but maybe too much black in the rump.
'White' Wagtail
'Pied' Wagtail
'Let me see'
Black tailed Godwit, Cliff pool, KWP
Hornets' nest, KWP
At the Cliff pool hide, Kingsbury Water Park I was greeted with that familiar phrase 'There was a but its/they've just flown off. In this case the birds in question were Black tailed Godwits. Fortunately, however, they returned to give rubbish views. Apart from that there was a flypast of three Common Snipe and a Peregrine in the Stratosphere. 
Knowing that the Highways Agency were at that very moment planning new ways of making my journey home as difficult as possible. I set off back, knowing the A5 was completely knackered I did a tour of most of the villages of West Leicestershire before reaching my destination.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Still looking

Monday/Tuesday 22nd /23rd September 2014
On Monday I was on the lookout for migrants. Without a great deal of success I would add. I did find 5 Blackcaps at the western extremities of 'the patch' but that was about it. I moved on to Warton on the Hill, right on the border with Leicestershire. The huge expanse of arable land had been recently ploughed and attracted up to 8 Common Buzzard , a large mixed Corvid flock, some 70 Linnets and a handful of Skylarks. At Alvecote there were 4 Little Egrets, and 2 Hobby.
Today I made a short visit to Shustoke Reservoir. There were very few birds on the water but a drake Pochard was a recent arrival. Also newly arrived was a young Ringed plover which I completely missed on my walk round the pond. I also missed another Ruff but having overdosed on Ruffs that was of less concern. Luckily Dave H. hadn't missed the plover, so I was able to get a couple of photos. As I was about to leave a Hobby was seen high over the Res.
Ringed plover, juvenile, Shustoke Reservoir
Ringed plover
Ringed plover

Friday, 19 September 2014

A not so dull day at Draycote Water.

Friday 19th September 2014
I was not particularly enjoying cutting down an ageing Laburnum tree in the garden, so when a casual look at the pager revealed a Bonxie at Draycote Water it was a good excuse to down tools. Hang on a mo though, the message didnt say whether it was settled on the water or a fly thru. Luckily confirmation that it was still there came through and I was off. On route there was intermittent drizzle and generally gloomy skies and it was pretty much the same at Draycote. The Great Skua was out in the middle, as bout as far away from the shore as it could be. It made a couple of short flights while I was there, in company with Bob Hazel, but didnt really come in any closer.
Great Skua, Draycote Water
Great Skua
Other birds seen on the visit included 6 lingering Common Terns, 2 Wheatear, a Yellow wagtail, 18 Skylarks and slightly more Meadow Pipits

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Garganey, Shustoke Res.

17th Sept. 2014
A couple more images of the Shustoke Reservoir Garganey
Garganey, Shustoke Res.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Middleton Lakes RSPB, mostly

Tuesday 16th September 2014
A good day in the Tame valley started at Shustoke Res with a couple of Ruff and a Common Sandpiper.
Common Sandpiper, Shustoke Res.
Common Sandpiper
At Middleton Lakes RSPB there was a good range of species to be seen on the Jubilee Wetlands. Waders were represented by Ruff 2,Curlew Sandpiper 6, Dunlin, Ringed plover 4, Greenshank and Little Stint 4. Chats; Wheatear 2, Stonechat, and Raptors, Hobby 2, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Whinchat and Marsh Harrier had been seen earlier in the day.
A selection of waders flushed by a pair of Hobbies
A message from Steve H.that there was a Garganey back at Shustoke had me heading back and sure enough the Garganey was there as well as 3 Ruff. The camera was called into action as all four birds spent some of the time close in to the shore near the car park. A very satisfactory end to an excellent day of local birding.
Ruff, Shustoke Res.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Looking around

Monday 15th September 2014
Nothing much to report over the past few days unfortunately, despite checking a few lesser known local sites. c350 Lesser black backed Gulls on a freshly ploughed field on the Warks. side of the A5 near Witherley was impressive but not many migrants were found. Today's itinerary; Piccadilly, Skylark, 3 Green Woodpeckers, Kingsbury W.P. 2 Snipe, Atherstone Co oP. Coffee, Farm shop, Dordon - Pasty, Alvecote pools 3 Hobby, several Chiffchaff, Hurley - 2 Wheatears.
Wheatear, Hurley

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Ruff at Shustoke Res.

Saturday 13th September 2014
A day of mixed fortunes, the birding day began at Mill pool, Alvecote which was almost a disaster from the start, when, with eyes to the skies I fell down a Rabbit hole and landed in a cow pat. Luckily the pat was largely dry and although the trusty camera went flying there was no great harm done. Not much in the way of birds a total of 7 Little Egrets and a Hobby were about it.
Little Egrets, Alvecote pools
There's always one
A message from Dave H, about a very confiding Ruff at Shustoke Res. had me heading for Shustoke although I wasnt confident about the bird still being there on a sunny Saturday. The number of dogs about would surely flush the bird but I went anyway. I shouldn't have worried. I met Dave, The bird was still there and showing down to a few feet.
Ruff, Shustoke Res.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Big flock, Little flock

Wednesday 10th September 2014
Gave Blithfield Res. a visit by way of a change yesterday. Had a good look round but didnt find much. Just nice to be out. A few Ruff, 3 Greenshank, a Yellow Wagtail  and a couple of Common Sands were the best I could do.
Today I was back on more familiar ground, the 'patch'. I started at 'Lower patch' near Caldecote Hall. As I parked up the Ash tree above me exploded as a large number a Hirundines took flight. Ok exploded might be a bit of an exageration but as these birds were joined by others already airbourne it was clear there were alot of birds, House Martins and Swallows, involved. Amazing sight.
A small part of an amazing flock of Swallows and House Martins at Caldecote.

Nothing particularly unusual about the rest of the walk, a Raven was heard, no sign of any Mistle Thrushes but a small group of Meadow pipits were new in. Other than that it was pretty much the usual stuff small flocks of Linnet, Reed Buntings and Goldfinches and single Nuthatch, Cormorant and Grey Heron.
Goldfinch, everywhere there are Thistles.
'Upper patch' was even quieter, even the area of Elderberries and Gorse were birdless. After picking up A pastie and sausage rolls at Dobbie's food hall I moved on to an area near Warton, in the North east corner of Warwickshire. Again small flocks of Linnets and also a good number of Yellowhammers but the only migrant seen was a single Garden warbler.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Middleton Lakes RSPB

Saturday 6th September 2014
First time at Middleton for a while, well since the Pacific Golden Plover. Quite alot of interest nearer to home but today I felt the need to have a wander around the lakes and see what was about. I met up with Julian Allen who put me on to one or two waders. On the Jubilee Wetlands we had Black tailed Godwit, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, and a Ruff, while the North pit held a Spotted Redshank, 2 Redshank, and another Ruff. Around the edge of the North pit there was a Wheatear, a Whinchat and a Stonechat all of which moved on to the ploughed field giving more distant views. As we made our way back past Fishers Mill a Hobby put on a display of low level flying to complete a very rewarding visit.
Spotted Redshank, Middleton Lakes, Staffs

Local Hobbies

Friday 5th September 2014
Although most of my local birding is focussed on North Warwickshire I do sometimes stray across the border into Leicestershire, a matter of less than 1/4 mile away. When Dave A invited me to visit a site where Hobbies had been seen regularly I took up the chance. Although relatively close to home it was an area of farmland just beyond Stapleton I was unfamiliar with. After following various paths our first find was, almost predictably this autumn, an immature Redstart. We also found small mixed flocks of Yellowhammers and Chiffchaff before Dave picked up the calls of Hobby. We picked out 4 Hobbies flying around, presumably a family group. Eventually they settled in trees, but too far away for a decent photo.
Hobby, Leicestershire

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Nature Walk

Tuesday 2nd September 2014
Started off from the Anchor Pub ( 'Tuesday Nite is Pie Nite' ) and checked the bushes there were more warblers about than on my previous visit - Blackcap, Garden warbler, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. Further along the canal on the 'Chalk bank' there was another group of Whitethroats (5) and a few more Chiffchaff. There was also my first Hummingbird Hawk Moth of the year. It didnt pose unfortunately but a day flying Red Underwing was much more obliging. A Peregrine circled high over the Quarry and a Raven was heard but not seen.
Young Whitethroat among the Elderberries
Common Whitethroat
Spot the Moth
Red Underwing
The second part of the walk involved a stretch of the River Anker from Woodford Lane to Witherley. Moorhens, still with their young seemed to be spaced out along the river every 40 or 50 metres. A Kingfisher took advantage of a dead Alder tree but generally the bird activity was minimal, such that I was reduced to photographing Dragonflies and Waterweed.
Migrant Hawkers
The river Anker

Monday, 1 September 2014

Draycote Water, Warks.

Monday 1st September 2014
Can you believe its September already, my Grandson's first day at school. Amazing.
Anyway decided to give the patch a rest today and with prolonged showers forecast thought I'd give Draycote Water a try. T.M. had already found a Shag. So you never know your luck something interesting might well turn up. I began walking round in light drizzle, but the rain got progressively heavier as the morning wore on.  I met the two Keiths looking for the Shag but it had disappeared, although a young Cormorant held our attention for a while. We went our separate ways and I walked round to Toft Bay. The hedges were alive with birds mainly Yellow Wagtails about 25 or so but also Yellowhammers, Pipits and Finches. I took shelter in Toft before heading back but still got a good soaking before reaching the Visitors centre. After a coffee and with the rain easing I walked round towards Rainbow corner, just before the overflow I saw the Shag on the rocks. The heavens opened again but not before I'd taken a few snaps.

A selection of images from Draycote Water
Juvenile Shag, Draycote Water
Juvenile Cormorant, for comparison
Juvenile Common Tern
Pipit sp
JuvenileYellow Wagtail
Common Tern
Juvenile Green Woodpecker