Thursday 29 April 2010

Persistence pays off

Thursday 29th April 2010

Did my usual walk near Caldecote Hall. The 4 Wheatear were still there on the fence posts near the river and a few Linnets on the hedgerows. I walked on north past the usual viewing points to check as many hedges as possible. I walked for about a mile but only saw Yellow wagtails, Lapwing and Skylark. On the way back a couple of Whitethroats caught my eye and something else perched on top of the weeds very upright. It was a chat of some description but was it what I was particularly looking for? It flew for some way but finally perched on a hedge much closer to me - a female Whinchat. (146) Outstanding!
When I reached the bridge over the river Anker on the way back I stopped to have a chat to a couple of fellas with binoculars. They weren't birders, just out for a walk and taking an interest in what was about. As we looked into the water a large Chub was visible and many small fish. After the recent pollution it was a relief to know that the fish stock hadn't been totally wiped out.
I went back to town after phoning in the sighting. After sorting out a few things, I needed to buy some Gobi Aloo Saag to go with our Thursday night post brewery curry. As I approached the Asda car park I saw a Red Kite (147) circling above Nuneaton Railway station which is next to the car park. Unbelievable. Was I in India? The bird must have seen something as it continued to circle for some time before slowly drifting off West. Quite a day, seeing two great birds so locally and it wasnt even coffee time.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

A day at Brandon Marsh

Little ringed Plover, Brandon Marsh N.R.

Little ringed Plover

Little ringed Plover

Cetti's Warbler, Brandon Marsh

Grasshopper warbler, Brandon Marsh

Grasshopper warbler

Black tailed Godwit, Brandon Marsh

Black tailed Godwit

Black tailed Godwit

Black tailed Godwit

Wednesday 28th April 2010

Lethargy reigns. I've just heard that theres a Marsh Harrier at Ladywalk NR. Ive got an hour and a half of daylight but having not seen the bird at Brandon or indeed the Osprey that was reported there while I was tucking into my Pork pie in the Car Park I've decided my lucks out today and all manner of evil spirits will conspire to prevent me seeing a Marsh Harrier. Its a fancy way of saying I cant be arsed, but I detest that expression so you'll have to put up with long winded version.
Apart from missing the two 'quality' species I enjoyed a decent sort of a day. Adding Reed warbler(145) to the County year list and taking a few photos of Black tailed Godwit and Little ringed Plover in the company of several other like minded citizens. The Grasshopper warbler showed well as did a fly by Cuckoo. As competition increases as more reed bed species come in birds become more showy as they stake their claim for the best breeding sites.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Migrants in Warks

Yellow wagtail, Caldecote

Yellow wagtail

Northern Wheatear

Cuckoo, Fisher's Mill

Tuesday 27th April 2010
As usual Caldecote was the first venue. The Wheatears were still around but more widely spread. With all the discussion of the various forms of Wagtail about this year I've added a couple of images taken today of a presumed female Yellow wagtail. I'd be interested to hear comments on this bird particularly anyone who saw the Draycote female blue headed wagtail. PS this is not the same bird I saw yesterday.

The Piccadilly spoil heaps were very quiet but I found some new paths to explore and some fragments of decent habitat.
Kingsbury was full of Black headed Gulls and little else although several Reed warblers were in fine voice. The walk to Fisher's Mill produced a good number of Garden warblers but relatively few Common Whitethroats. Fishers Mill pool was dominated by yet more Black headed gulls but at least there was a highlight in the form of a Cuckoo.
In the evening I tried again for Woodcock at Bentley woods. For the first time in many years I failed to see any but I usually leave it till May so perhaps its a bit too early this year.

Monday 26 April 2010

It happened again

Northern Wheatear, Caldecote Warks.

Northern Wheatear, Caldecote Warks

Northern Wheatear
Monday 26th April 2010

I've been visiting an area not far from where I live which has a good deal of potential for attracting migrants. Its an area of flood meadow on the river Anker near Caldecote Hall. As I arrived at my usual viewing point I immediately saw a wagtail on the short grass. It had a dark head, Much darker than the Kingsbury bird, more a bluey grey. No sooner had I seen the bird I had to walk away as 2 ladies with dogs were heading my way and the bird was quite near the path and I didnt want it flushed. Luckily the dogs stayed on the path and the bird was undisturbed. I walked with the ladies, well you've got to be friendly, and obviously impressed them with my in depth knowledge of Western Palearctic Yellow wagtail sub-species. Actually I needed to get back to my car for my camera as I was determined to have some sort of record of this unusual wagtail. Needless to say when I returned there was no sign of the wagtail. Twice I'd found a Blue headed type wagtail and twice I would probably be the only observer with no evidence of their existence.
Moving on to Grendon Common I saw my first Garden warbler (144) of the year. After lunch I went back to Caldecote, where I was joined by Adam Archer. We had a good look round the area, there were now 5 Northern Wheatears on posts and in the Bean fields and several Yellow wagtails but again no sign of the 'Blue head'.

Total number of species reported in Warks. so far in 2010 = 169

Sunday 25 April 2010

Wood warbler ar Baddesley

Wood warbler, Baddesley N.Warks.

Wood warbler

Wood warbler

Wood warbler
Sunday 25th April 2010
OK , Where to start? After a phone call from Steve Cawthray I headed off to Folly Lane, Baddesley. John Alton had found a Wood warbler (142) in the same spot as a Pied Flycatcher a couple of years ago. As soon as I got out of the car I picked up the distinctive trill. Steve was already on the bird high up in the Birches, I managed a couple of images for the blog but couldn't stay long so apologies for the photos. Apologies too for the cock up over the info I was a bit pre-occupied until this evening but should have made more effort to get the info out. Went back this evening but no sign, although I did see my first Cuckoo (143) of the year.

Saturday 24 April 2010

Black tern at Draycote water

Black tern, Draycote water

Great northern Diver

Saturday 24th April 2010

An early morning visit to Caldecote meadows provided some excellent local birding to start the day. The 4 wheatears seen 2 days earlier were still there and the numbers of Yellow wagtails had increased. Other birds seen or heard included: Tree Sparrow, Greater spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Swallow, Blackcap, Kingfisher, Raven and Mistle Thrush. A call from Dave Hutton had me scurrying off to Draycote water after throwing a small Sainsbury's pork pie and packet of Cheesy nibbles into the boot. Even though its a place I try to avoid on sunny weekends it sounded as though some good birds were passing through on southerly winds. When I got there a number a terns and some Little gulls out in the centre of the reservoir. A Black tern (140)was easy enough to pick out and I was happy to ID a single Arctic tern and a few Common terns (141) but the majority would be best described as 'commic' terns. The 'Blue headed wagtail' proved very elusive as did the Garganey largely due to the 'tourist masses' but both were seen by some birders present but not yours truely. A Cuckoo flew across the res seen by Martyn Yapp and at one point one of the two Great northern Divers still present popped up very close to Toft bank.

Abbreviated Ablusions

Ring Ouzel, Seeswood pool near Nuneaton

Ring Ouzel

Ring Ouzel

Friday 23rd April 2010

I like getting info about local birds, it gives a focus to the day. I dont mind getting out early either, provided I'm prepared. Dashing out at short notice often results in things being left undone or not completed like flies and breakfast. So when I got a massage from Dave Hutton via TP that he had found a Ring Ouzel at Seeswood pool just up the road, I left in unseemly haste. The bird, probably a first summer male showed well on the pastures next to the pool but also flew out of sight to adjacent fields when the local Mistle Thrushes got too close. Steve Cawthray and Lee Johnson arrived and managed to see the bird before it became more elusive.

Friday 23 April 2010

A bit of luck

Northern Wheatear, Coombe Abbey - image by kind permission of Mr Andrew Hale

Local incident

Female Common Whitethroat - Brandon Marsh

Female Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat

Thursday 22nd April 2010

Awoke to a beautiful morning except that it was snowing! Bits of black were falling from the sky. Nuneaton, not to be outdone by Iceland had its own cloud of Ash generated by a fire at an engineering works not far away. Anyway birding must continue and first port of call was Caldecote meadows not too far away but beyond the fallout zone. After a short walk to the river there were 3 Wheatears perched up on fence posts and another one on the ground and a pair of yellow wagtails in the sheep field, an excellent start to the day. News of a Whinchat near Coombe Abbey had me umming and arring. It could could a wasted journey as the trip for the Ring Ouzel in the same place had been. Still if you are going for a County year list you've got to go for it. I arrived and immediately met the same guy who found the Ring Ouzel. He had a photo of the Whinchat but said it hadnt been seen since early morning. I was joined by Andy Hale and Dennis Woodward. We spent the next hour searching for the Whinchat but with no success. We did find a male Wheatear and a couple of female Common Whitethroats(138) and then incredibly a female Ring Ouzel (139) flew just in front of us. We watched in amazement as the bird flew over a Rape field and disappeared out of view.

I moved on to Brandon Marsh for no other reason than it was nearby.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Beacon Hill, Leicestershire

Black Redstart, Beacon Hill, Leics.
When Steve Haynes phoned me up to say he'd found a Black Redstart, at Beacon Hill in Charnwood Forest I decided a change of scenery and a break from chasing Ring Ouzels in Warwickshire was just what was needed. It was a fine day to be birding in such lovely scenery. Beacon hill is a little rocky outcrop which attracts migrants every year but it is also quite popular so best visited early.
There were were a good number of other species around too; Wheatear, Yellow wagtail, Yellowhammer, Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipits and numerous Tree pipits. A very enjoyable mornings birding.
In the evening I went to see if any Woodcock were to be seen in display flights over the woodland around the Atherstone golf course area but none were seen.
Black Redstart

Black Redstart

Black Restart

Black Redstart

Tuesday 20 April 2010

More new birds in the Tame valley

Sedge warbler, Ladywalk N.R.

Whimbrel, Ladywalk N.R.


Black tailed Godwit

Shelduck, Ladywalk N.R.
Orange Tip, Ladywalk N.R.
Tuesday 20th April 2010
Explored the area around Piccadilly. near Kingsbury this morning. Lots of habitat but few birds unfortunately. The accessible area is a lot more extensive than I'd realised and took a while to look round. I was in need of a coffee by the end of my stroll so I took a midday break at the Cedars Cafe. I somehow make this birding sound like hard work but I know I'm very lucky to be able to wander round birding most of the day. I moved on to Ladywalk and picked up a new year bird straight away in the form of a Sedge warbler (135). It was also good to see Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Swift all in the air together for the first time. I picked up a message that a Whimbrel and a Black tailed Godwit had been seen from riverwalk hide but had flown off. I phoned Steve Cawthray to check on the sighting and he said only the Whimbrel had flown off. I made my way to Riverwalk hide and was surprised to see 2 waders, one was clearly the Black tailed Godwit (136) but the Whimbrel (137) took a while to ID before the crown stripe became visible through the bins. I then had a mad half hour. A further message that there was a female Ring Ouzel near Coombe Abbey had me on the go again. I found the site, but the habitat looked wrong, cultivated fields of Kale. I met the birder who had found the bird. He had brief views of the bird perched up in some trees and then a flight view, but the bird had flown some distance and there was no further sign in the short time I was there. There seems to have been a big movement of Ring Ouzel in the North and the Midlands but as yet no birds are being found in Warwickshire.

Monday 19 April 2010

First Swifts come through

Swift, first of the year,one of 5 over the Water Park mid afternoon.


Willow warbler

Green Sandpiper, Cliff pool



Monday 10th April 2010
Edited highlights: Caldecote, Grendon Common, Baddesley Common - No highlights edited or otherwise but a definite lowlight when I got news that a Red Kite had flown over my house just after I left. Makes you wonder if its all worth it really. Course I might have been in the house doing the ironing or some such and so I'd have missed seeing it anyway.

Alvecote pools, Mill pool - 50 Sand Martin, House Martin, Common Snipe
Kingsbury W.P., Cliff pool - Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little ringed Plover

- Richard's Meadow/canal - Common Whitethroat(heard only), Swift x5 (134)

Sunday 18 April 2010


This wagtail was in Cyprus in 2006 the nearest example I can find to the Kingsbury Water Park wagtail.

Sunday 18th April 2010
A non birding weekend really after the excitement during the week. An e'mail from Alan Dean via John Harris prompted me to reassess the ID of the KWP wagtail. From Alan's description of the 'Channel' wagtail form and from analysis of other photos it seems likely that the wagtail with the blue head could best be described as this Channel type. Of greater concern was retrieving my wife, due to fly back from Scotland today. I'm pleased to report she made it by train without too much hassle. I see the wandering West Mids Golden Eagle is still about. I wonder if its anything to do with the Golden Eagle that used to be flown by a falconer on Blind pit Lane,Wishaw a couple of years ago. Finally, of interest heard Tawny Owl calling at Mid day from 2 locations this week!