Friday, 27 November 2015

Tales of the River Bank

27th November 2015

A short walk along the River Anker today. Checked out the docks and bushes either side of Woodford Lane but no sign of any Chiffchaffs yet. On one of the fields along the A5 approaching Woodford Lane the Golden plover flock had built up C50 birds. While on the field next to the river were C40 Fieldfare with a Starling flock. About 100m along the river from the road bridge was a flock of perhaps 20 Siskin many coming down to the river presumably to drink from the small pools left by flattened Reed stems. A Kingfisher flashed past while a Grey Wagtail flew by at a more leisurely pace.The only birds seen in the overhanging riverside bushes was a single Goldcrest.

Thursday, 26 November 2015


Thursday 26th November 2015

After a week of typical November weather, I've seen a few good birds and missed a few good birds. Highlight has got to be the 3 Short eared Owls hunting in close proximity at Coleshill Quarry followed by a pair of Great Northern Divers at Draycote Water. Birds I've 'missed' included Bittern, Scaup and Common Scoter. Stonechat continue to be found on patches of waste rough ground with the necessary Dock stems. Again no images worth publishing - OK I can just hear one or two saying, 'it hasn't stopped you in the past'.Incidentally,went through not one but two mobile speed traps today at regular spots on the way to Draycote.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Short eared Owls

Sunday 22nd November 2015

Put in a few hours at various sites trying to see one of the Short eared Owls that have arrived in Warwickshire recently. Yesterday I got my first sighting in the failing light at Coleshill Quarry with a Barn Owl in same area.Up to three SEOs had been reported earlier. So today I set out again, it was a long wait with no Stonechat to keep me amused. Raven was seen and there was Green Sandpiper and Grey wagtail on the Whitacre Severn Trent site. Eventually though patience was rewarded with an excellent display from 2 Short eared Owls and a Barn Owl. Well worth waiting for. Not the best image you'll see but better than nothing, just.

Short eared Owl, Coleshill Quarry

Friday, 20 November 2015

Study of a Kestrel

Friday 20th November 2015

A few images of a Kestrel at Whitacre Heath Nature Reserve






Spent the day touring a number of sites between Shustoke Res. and Middleton Lakes looking for Short eared Owls, but to no avail. Found another site with a pair of Stonechat and there were a pair of Goldeneye on Hemlingford Water at Kingsbury but that was as good as it got. The Kestrel was good though. Amazing how the head is kept so still even though everything else is going ten to the dozen.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Exploring North Warwickshire's Docklands

Thursday 19th November 2015

I've been unavailable for Birding due to injury the last couple of days but I pronounced myself fit for some light Birding today and thought I'd have a look at some of Warwickshire's little known Docklands. Dock, as in dead plant stems, much loved by wintering Stonechats and passage Whinchats as perches. Patches of Docks occur on rough ground along the flood valley of the river Anker between Nuneaton and Alvecote. Today I started at Mill pool, Alvecote where a pair of Stonechat were in the 'Dock field'. There was also a light phase juv.Common Buzzard trying for all the world to look like a Rough legged Buzzard, particularly with a striking dark terminal tail band. I also checked out the Canada goose flock but could only find 4 Greylags.....but hang on. Walking back past Teal pool there were the 2 Pink footed geese.Still in residence but keeping themselves to themselves.
In the afternoon I checked the Dock fields along the river at Caldecote but there was nothing of note  and no finches to be seen on Leathermill lane.

Common Buzzard, Alvecote pools

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Caldecote Walk

Wednesday 11th November 2015

Braved the strong winds to check the local walk around Caldecote Hall. The wind was obviously keeping a lot of small birds down but the Corvids and Raptors seemed to be very active. First up was a Peregrine followed by Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard (4) and Kestrel. Fieldfare numbers had increased, the birds (c40) were perched up high in the various bits of woodland along my route. A small number of Redwing were seen amongst them. It was also good to see a couple of Stonechats, both male, along the flood meadow struggling to stay perched on the swaying Dock stems. It was difficult to judge whether the Chaffinch flock had increased as they were largely staying on the ground and I only saw a couple of Meadow pipits but there could well have been more.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Crag Martin - Chesterfield

Tuesday 10th November 2015

Tore myself away from the muddy tracks of North Warks. to go and have a gander at the Crag Martin at Chesterfield yesterday, and jolly glad I did to. Quite a unique experience in many ways. When the bird did show it showed very well, circling the famous crooked spire of the church. I suppose I should have at least attempted to get some photos but in the gloom and persistant drizzle I contented myself with just admiring the acrobatics of this little unexpected visitor to the Midlands. So no illustrations in this blog I'm afraid. The only downside to the whole event was the hospitality I experienced in this area of Derbyshire. Perhaps its a local custom but when I ask for a Cappucino I expect most of it to be served in the cup and not in the saucer (BHS Cafe) and the Prawn and Mayo sandwich I got from Tesco's in Alfreton was the worst sarnie I've had in any Supermarket, Cafe, Bistro or Restaurant anywhere in the world. I know I shouldnt expect too much from Supermarket catering but I could have sanded down my floorboards with the bread. Anyway it all made for an interesting day.Warwickshire may not have any rarities (at the moment) but at least I know where I can get a decent sandwich.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Local Birding

Wednesday 4th November 2015

 A bit of local birding today again with the faint hope of finding a lingering migrant. Certainly judging from the intense insect life around the River Anker today such a bird would have no problems surviving. The only outgoing migrant I did see was a single Chiffchaff but there were plenty of new comers with Chaffinches being particularly well represented but no sign of any Brambling amongst them yet. The Stonechats at Caldecote had moved on but the fields of winter Wheat and areas of rough ground along the River had plenty of birdlife. Small groups of Redwing, Fieldfare, Reed Bunting, Meadow pipit, Skylark 20+, Linnet, Goldfinch Heron 4, Cormorant 3, Single, Kestrel, Siskin, and Song Thrush. Following the river Anker from Leathermill Lane north towards Mancetter the usual Grey Wagtails were soon in evidence but despite the insects and overhanging bushes there were few birds on show in this area with no sign of any Tree sparrows.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Bearded Tits - Brandon Marsh

Sunday 1st November 2015

Yesterday in an attempt to gain some much needed Brownie points I took Jan to Leamington. A 20 minute crawl through the Toll Bar End junction caused a bit of cursing and muttering but we eventually got to our destination. I popped in to Brandon Marsh on the way back. It was quiet.I started with a quick look at Teal pool. Just Teal, as you might expect but then a movement in a patch of dead Reed stems to the right of the hide caught my attention. The movement was quite violent so I expected quite a large bird but was surprised when a cracking male Bearded Tit appeared in the bins followed my a female. Wow.Great views but all too soon the pair flew off right. I went into East Marsh hide and told the few folk in there what I had seen and to keep 'em peeled. I then went to check out the main reedbed. I heard a single Ting and the briefest view of pale birds flying low above the reeds but that was it. Having managed to avoid seeing Bearded tits at various locations the previous week this was payback time. I hadn't expected to see anything at Brandon so finding the tits was a particular pleasure. Pleasure slightly tinged with frustration though when I went back to East Marsh to learn that no less than 4 Bearded tits had been seen pretty well in front of the hide and one chap had even taken a decent photo. Despite a further search around there was no more sign.