Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 - Looking back

31st December 2015
Looking back over the year just passed has produced a variety of great Birding memories and quite a few disappointments. Luckily the blog is there to remind me of an eventful year. I've travelled to a few far away places but one, if not the, best bird of the year was a Grey Phalarope in full summer plummage just down the road at Brandon Marsh Nature reserve.
Grey Phalarope, Brandon Marsh, Warks.

Other localish birds included:
Melodious Warbler
White winged Black Tern
Red footed Falcon, Tunstall,Staffs well as the Crag Martin at Chesterfield.
Nationally it was very much a mixed year. Notable 'misses' were the Great Blue Heron and the Citril Finch but 'new' birds came in the form of Cretzschmar's Bunting, Hudsonian Godwit and Chestnut Bunting.
Chestnut Bunting, Papa Westray, Orkney

          Other highlights included the recent influx of local Short eared Owls in North Warwickshire and the invasion of Yellow browed warblers on the Shetland Isles.
Yellow browed Warbler, a garden bird in Lerwick, Shetland Isles

          I've been very lucky to have the opportunity to do some Western Palearctic birding with trips to Cyprus, Tenerife, Estonia and Georgia. All were great adventures in their own way but the trip to Georgia provided a good many new and very interesting birds. Great Rosefinch and Wallcreeper were particularly Photogenic

Great Rosefinch, Georgia

Wallcreeper, Georgia

Scops Owl, Cyprus

White backed Woodpecker, Estonia

Lesser short toed Lark, Tenerife

Purple Heron, Cyprus

So just a sample of the species I've been privileged to see over a year's Birding. I'd like to take the opportunity to thank and wish Happy New Year to all those friends and fellow Birders that I've met over the year, particularly those who have offered me lifts to the far flung corners of the U.K.and those whose good humour and knowledge has been much appreciated, even the Clams!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Mud mud not so glorious mud.

Monday 21st December 2015

A messy few days in more ways than one: fiddling about doing things, not doing things.The non highlights indicate a distinct lack of birding Highlights being: A hearse doing 60+ along Brandon Lane, a Transit van stuck in a ditch along LeatherMill Lane and Doing a one wellie dance in the mud off Woodford Lane, Now the wellie dance was different. I was walking the Anker river bank towards Mancetter when in one particularly vicious bit of mud my wellie got stuck and was slowly being sucked under. In an effort to pull myself from the mire I became physically unstable and started to rotate. As I hopped on my free leg my other foot twisted in the boot so that my body was now facing in the opposite direction to my foot. At this point knowing something had to give I decided that getting dirty was better than getting broke so with my wellie refusing to budge I hit the mud. All in a days birding. I continued the walk but had little reward: a single Chiffchaff again, the usual Grey Wagtail a pair of Treecreepers, Mallard, Fieldfare 60, and several Wrens.

Grey Wagtail, Woodford Lane

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Staying local, mostly

Wednesday 16th December 2015

Nearly time for the annual end of year report when I reminisce the highlights and lowlights of my Birding year, home and abroad, and pick out the Top ten photos of the year. This year isn't quite done with yet and there might still be a surprise in store although I rather doubt it. Still fancy a Yellow browed hiding out somewhere in the County though.
Birding this week has been limited to Alvecote, walks around the Caldecote circuit and Mancetter with visits to Brandon Marsh and Draycote today. Not much to write about though but nice views of the unfortunate Great northern Diver ensnared by fishing line and the drake Smew. The Fieldfare flock in fields near Caldecote Hall is now over 200 birds but the number of Siskin along the Anker at Woodford Lane has gone down.

Smew, Draycote Water


Great northern Diver

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Nothing special

Wednesday 9th December 2015

A quiet day, even the wind calmed down. I had a leisurely stroll around some of the Alvecote pools but no sign of any Egrets of any size. The regular pair of Stonechat showed well, as they say, and a pale Common Buzzard drifted over. A couple of Shelduck flew over but that was about it.
Later I did one of my regular walks from Woodford Lane river bridge to Witherley/ Mancetter and back. The first wintering Chiffchaff I'd seen was near the bridge and further along the river Anker, Kingfisher, Grey wagtail and a small group of Siskin were found. 30 or so Fieldfare with one or two Redwings were in the adjacent Hawthorns. On the return journey more Redwings were in the stubble with some 25 Yellowhammers and a few Linnets. There was no sign of any Tree Sparrows, however,which can usually be found in small numbers somewhere along the route.

Female Stonechat, Mill pool, Alvecote

Common Buzzard

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Short eared Owls

Tuesday 8th December 2015

A few images of the Blyth Mill Short eared Owls

Short eared Owl, Blyth valley, Coleshill

Short eared Owl

Short eared Owl

Short eared Owl

Short eared Owl

Short eared Owl

Friday, 4 December 2015

A bit of rare sunshine

Friday 4th December 2015

A few images from today's visits to Coombe Abbey and Draycote Water. Much the same as my previous visit but with sunshine, and I managed to do the complete circuit. Most of the 'action' was still on the southern shoreline however. Only one of the great northern Divers was seen on this occasion but the Scaup showed well near the pontoons. Another police vehicle check was encountered and no mince pie freebies at Morrisons today. In fact my visit to said supermarket was a bit disappointing as the coffee machine had a malfunction. The Cappuccino it produced was frothless fortunately there was not a queue as several attempts were made by the staff. I mean a Cappuccino without froth is like a ................... In the end I did get my coffee.

Tawny Owl

Great Northern Diver


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Birds and Pies.

1st December 2015

After a couple of non birding days I took myself off to Brandon Marsh and Draycote Water. There had been reports of good Otter sightings earlier at Brandon but I saw little of interest while I was there. Can I rephrase that? Of course all birds are interesting to some extent and it was good to see Stonechat, Water Rail and the flock of C200 Lapwing but nothing of particular interest. I moved on to Draycote Water, I walked clockwise and soon found the first of the 2 Great northern Divers around Rainbow corner. A Scaup was near the bank just past the inlet but I failed to identify either of the two Pintail reported in the area. Tree Sparrows around the feeding stations had increased in since my last visit but difficult to give an exact number with other species in the now sizeable flock.

Great northern Diver, Draycote Water



My day was complete when, as is my custom I pulled into Morrison's in Coventry for some light refreshments on the way home. I picked up my usual sandwich and a Coffee and prepared to pay when I was asked 'Are you an OAP ?' yeees I replied, only just but definitely yes. Then said the lady on the till 'for one day only you can have the coffee and a Mince pie, which she produced from under the counter, on us. Now wasn't that nice.