Thursday 30 September 2010

Two for the price of one

Lesser Scaup, Draycote Water

Yellow wagtail

Ruff with Dunlin

Thursday 30th Sept. 2010

It had to be the Big pond today. I was determined to get the Lesser Scaup in the bag if it took all day. In the event I found it straight away in exactly the same place it was reported yesterday. It wasn't completely straight foward though as when I arrived at Draycote Water it was shrouded in heavy mist. As I walked round to Hensborough bank the mist lifted. Most of the Duck were reasonably close to the shore and it didn't take too long to pick out the Lesser Scaup (169). There were also a few waders round the overflow channel: 7 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin. A Ruff also put in an appearance later in the day. I met up with Richard Mays and we noted a significant number of Skylarks flying over.
On Farborough and Toft banks there were a number of Yellow wagtails still a few Meadow pipits and 2 Rock pipits (170).
No. of species reported in Warwickshire in 2010 = 192

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Visit to the Little Pond

Northern Wheatear, Shustoke Res.

Northern Wheatear

Wednesday 28th Sept. 2010

Visited Shustoke Res.(Little Pond) as opposed to (Big Pond) Draycote Water today. Birding time was limited to having a quick shuffty at somewhere in the Tame valley and I was on route when I got a call from Steve Cawthray saying there were a number of Little gulls at Shustoke. I joined Steve to watch the 8 Little gulls (2Adults and 6 1w). We were joined by Steve Haynes and speculated on what other pelagic species might appear in the increasingly heavy rain. In the event we didnt see any pelagic birds but were joined by a rather bedraggled and confiding Northern Wheatear. For once I didn't have my trusty 40D to hand to record the Wheatear. Steve suggested using a camera with his scope. A technique, I must admit I'd never used before and amazingly it worked, at least a better than nothing image with a strangely mystical quality. I cant remember which scope I used but as I would need an hydraulic lift to get anywhere near Steve H's eyepiece it was probably Steve C's.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Tales of the Water Park

Tuesday 28th Sept. 2010

With migration getting into full swing and lots of goodies turning up on the East coast. I thought I'd opt for the peace and tranquility of North Warwickshire. It was a pretty dull overcast day and didnt inspire much confidence in finding any interesting birds. I tried most of my the usual haunts between Nuneaton and Fisher's mill but it was just flat for want of a better word. I think Willow tit(Broomey Croft), Goldcrest(Legion Wood), and Grey Wagtail(Shustoke) were the best I could come up with. Peace and quiet is all very well but there is a limit.

Anyway I have a bit of a tale to tell. In an ironic twist of fate an incident ocurred at Kingsbury involving an untethered dog and a lady riding a a bicycle around Canal pool. The fact that both the riding of dogs and bicycles not on leads are strictly prohibited in the Nature reserve gives rise to the irony. To continue, there was, shall we say a coming together. The net result of which led to the women being thrown into the pool. Fortunately, the commotion aroused an assistant warden( an endangered species in these parts) from his hibernation under a nearby hide. However, the warden was unable to help until he had put on his waterproof gloves, wellies with steel toe caps, high visability jacket and ear protectors. He still wasnt happy as he'd just been on a health and safety course and both the colour of the water and its slightly fishy smell were outside acceptable limits. Anyway the warden and the women cyclist lived to tell the tale and the dog was told he was a naughty boy in a firm voice. This tale was inspired by actual events.

Monday 27 September 2010

County Year listing gets tough

Monday 27th Sept. 2010

Tiree or Draycote Water? Northern Parula or the possibility of seeing a Lesser Scaup ? No contest really. I passed up the chance of a trip to Argyll today so that I could stand in the rain at Draycote Water and look at Tufted Ducks all afternoon. I did see a Grey wagtail and a couple of Ringed plover but I cant say it was one of my more memorable visits to Draycote. I was pleased for Tony Shepherd though who texted me to say the Northern Parula was in the bag. Good on yer mate, 'Who dares wins' but Im not going to beat myself up about it. I'm more concerned about the Bonxie someone saw in Toft Bay. I spent most of the afternoon in Toft and didnt see a thing. Thats 2 good County year birds missed in as many days.

Sunday 26 September 2010

Invisible migration

Saturday 25th Sept. 2010

A strange day started with an early trip to Draycote water to look for the Lesser Scaup reported the previous day. It is presumed to be the returning bird from last year arriving within a few days of last year's arrival date. Whatever, I didnt see it. I met up with the Blurred Birder anxious to gain a tactical advantage over rival regional year lister Julian Allen. The gamble almost paid off with Julian heading for Worcestershire to clean up on Pec. Sand. and Lapland Bunting. In the event despite checking most of the Tufties and the western side of the res, and the experienced eye of Draycote recorder John Judge we came up with nothing. There was clearly a good deal of migration going on with Yellow wagtails and Meadow pipits on the banks and the sound of Skylarks moving high overhead. Walking back to the centre we saw a Peregrine overhead and as we passed the Sailing club on our way to Rainbow corner we had a message from JJ saying there was a juvenile Gannet flying over the Country Park. Martyn and I were right next to the Country Park but with no view, being right under the trees. By the time we could get a view the bird had flown off down the valley completely ignoring the reservoir. What a sickner, if we had been anywhere else on the res we would probably have seen it. Anyway my birding time was up as I was due for a stint ( I wish) of Dog sitting. That wasnt the end of the tribulations though. News that an American Flycatcher had been found in Norfolk triggered the usual reaction of panic and feined indifference. On the basis that nobody knew what the hell it was and I wouldn't get to Blakeney point by dusk and I'd seen Alder Flycatcher the previous year anyway I almost relaxed. Almost. Further news that it may be a completely different species started the whole sorry dilemma again. A couple of pints at the tap didnt help. I made some tentative enquires and when Tony Shepherd offered me a lift the decision was made. There was still a final twist to what had been a day of missed chances. Further doubt had been cast on the identity of the Flycatcher and those who purport to know about such things had come to the conclusion that it was probably an Alder Flycatcher. So the trip was aborted, Lets just hope the Villa come up with a win this afternoon.
Would you Adam and eve it, Northern Parula on Tiree. Here we go again. Watch this space!

Friday 24 September 2010

Black tern still at Kingsbury W.P.

Black tern, Kingsbury W.P.

Friday 24th Sept. 2010

Fantastic lightning storm over North Warks yesterday evening. Stood outside the Church End Brewery for some time after my usual Thursday night pint watching the show. Unfortunately the days birding hadn't provided the same highlights! Visited a good number of localish venues hoping for a migrant or two but very little found. Chiffchaffs here and there, dwindling numbers of Swallows on the move and a couple of terns. An Arctic tern that flew through Coton lakes and the lingering Black tern, now spending most of its time on Broomey Croft pool, Kingsbury.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Influx of Black Terns in the Midlands

Black tern, Mill pool, Alvecote

Black tern

Black tern

Wednesday 22nd Sept. 2010

Disaster I've lost the thing a me jig off me camera. Its the dial off the programme selector knob whats gawn. Could mean the end of blogging as we know it. A blog without photos is like ..... I'll get back to you on that one. I havent a clue what camera settings I'm on, so I'm struggling. Even resorted to looking in the manual. Fat lot of good that did but I'll give it another go when I can keep my eyes open.
Had a go at photographing the Black terns at Mill pool this evening but struggled. Still it was nice to see a good flock feeding over the water. I counted 31 birds just before 6.00pm and there have been sizable counts on other Midlands reservoirs.
No of species reported in Warks. so far this year = 190

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Black tern at Kingsbury W.P.

Black Tern, Kingsbury W.P.

Black tern

Tuesday 21st Sept. 2010

Spent the morning looking around Grendon/Merevale area. Lovely day to be wandering about but not even a Lapland Bunting to show for it. 20+ Meadow pipits near Baxterley was the best I could do. After lunch and a read of who was/is doing what to who in the popular papers, at the Cedars cafe. Had a look in at Coton where there appeared to have been a small influx of Wigeon before moving on for a bit a lazy birding from the hides at Cliff pool. The Black tern was commuting between the various pools and other birds included Greenshank 2, Ruff, Little Egret 7, and Kingfisher.

Monday 20 September 2010

Black necked Grebe at Draycote Water

Black necked Grebe, Draycote Water, Warks.

Black necked Grebe

Black necked Grebe

Monday 20th Sept. 2010

Having had a non active weekend, a brisk circum navigation of Draycote Water was called for. I went for the clockwise route but hadn't got out of second gear before I came across a couple behaving very furtively as I rounded a bush just beyond the Wind surfing area. Messrs Mays and Hazel, that well known firm of solicitors or decorators or whatever, were up to something or on to something and when theyre acting, well, a bit coy, its usually something good. They directed my attention to a Black necked Grebe (168), true Gentlemen. OK its not that good but it was the first one I'd seen in the County this year.
After the obligatory photo shoot I moved on, but not very far before I stopped to look at a group of waders - 5 Dunlin and 4 Ringed plover. I had to wait until I got round to Biggin Bay before I saw the next bird of note the first of 2 Common Sandpipers. I also had good views of a Stoat but it had long disappeared into Nettles before I could lock and load my trusty Canon.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Race against time

Young Swallow still being fed at Mill pool, Alvecote, Warks.

Young Swallow

Friday 17th Sept. 2010

Not much time for birding today but had a look around Alvecote pools. Distinct autumny feel about the weather. The bushes between Mill pool and Teal pool had up to 8 Chiffchaff but didnt see anything else of note. Few more Teal about and a couple of Meadow pipits but didnt have enough time to get round the whole area.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Should'av gone to Draycote?

A queue of Little Egrets, Cliff pool, Kingsbury W.P.



Thursday 16th Sept. 2010
It couldnt happen again could it? With the wind still gusting there had to be a chance of some palagic species getting blown inland. I thought Draycote would be well covered so opted for the Tame valley again. At Shustoke Res. yesterday's large flock of House Martins had moved on but the 1st winter Little Gull was still there as were the resident Kingfisher and Grey wagtail. A Hobby flew over no doubt 'wondering' where the House Martins had gone, but there were still plenty of young Swallows to keep it interested. There was a single Green Sandpiper at Lea Marston lake but nothing at Coton pools. A quick look in at Cliff pool, Kingsbury W.P. produced 7 Little Egret, 2 Greenshank and an increasing flock of Lapwing.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Leach's Petrel in Warwickshire

Leach's Petrel, Coton pools, Warwickshire

Leach's petrel amongst the Gulls

Leach's petrel

Leach's petrel

Leach's Petrel, Coton pools, Warwickshire
Wednesday 15th Sept. 2010

What a day! Started off with a regulation visit to Shustoke Res. The Little Gull was still there performing in the centre of the pool with several hundred House Martins and 2 Common Swift. Chatted to Brian Kington for a while before moving on to the Cedars for a coffee and then to Coton pools car park to eat lunch. It was just after I'd gone in the hide at Coton that things started to get interesting. Apart from another hundred or so House Martins and a Hobby nothing particularly unusual. Heard a short burst of Cetti's warbler and then picked up some movement on the back pool. It was distant but I was sure I was looking at a Leach's Petrel (167) being chased by 3 Black headed Gulls. I phoned out the news to the paging service and a few friends but lost sight of the bird as I was doing so. Just then who should walk into the hide but Steve Haynes complete with 'scope completely unaware of the sighting. Steve wasted no time in scanning the pool and after some time relocated the petrel sitting on the water very close to the far bank. As other birders started to arrive the bird moved out of sight from the hide. We moved to the track around the lake but with the shore line having a dense line of Willows and other foliage the bird became extremely difficult to see unless it flew to the centre of the lake, which it did from time to time. SH and I were joined by Graham Mant and Steve Cawthray There were a few places where it was possible to see through the willows and at one such gap we found the petrel, a few feet off shore. We had amazing views before the Leach's petrel drifted past us and was again hidden from view. It remained for perhaps another hour but was never very easy to see.

Monday 13 September 2010

Crane and Ale

Western Bonelli's warbler, Bempton Cliffs RSPB, E.Yorks.

Western Bonelli's warbler

Western Bonelli's warbler

Western Bonelli's warbler 'twitch'
Saturday 11th Sept. 2010
When I checked the pager having driven to Beverley, I was delighted to see that there was a Western Bonelli's warbler just up the road at Bempton cliffs RSPB. The scene of great disappointment earlier in the week, dipping the Brown Flycatcher, at least this bird was definitely there. I just got a view of bird before the heavens opened sending everyone running for cover. The fact that the bird was in trees right next to the overflow car park meant we didnt have to run far. After the shower came the sun and the bird generally showed well, favouring an Ash tree amongst the Sallows.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at Flamborough seaching the Brambles and thickets near the Golf course for Migrants. Only common migrants; Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Willow warbler, Garden warbler and Spotted Flycatcher were noted with a number of Whinchats, a Stonechat and Hobby in the Gorse field next to the car park.
So where, I hear you Cry, does the Ale come in? Well, having eventually met up with my dear wife Jan we had a pleasant evening at the White Horse (Nellies) in Beverley, gas lamps and all, supping Samuel Smith's Brewery Bitter at £1.50 a pint!
Common Crane, Hornsea Mere, East Yorks

Common Crane

Common Crane

Common Crane

Common Crane

Black Redstart, Atwick

Weasel, Atwick

Red necked Grebe, North cave Wetlands, East Yorks
Sunday 12th September 2010

On Sunday I headed for Hornsea Mere. A Common Crane had been coming on to Swan island from time to time viewable from the car park. Luckily it was there when I arrived, even more fortunately it decided to fly, going up quite high before returning to its favoured area on the island. There were also small flocks of Dunlin and Ruff on other smaller islands. As the number of Sunday visitors built up I moved to check out the coastal path at Atwick the next village just north of Hornsea. The area between the two Caravan sites has always been worth a look, although the strip of weedy land between the cliff and the cultivated land has got less year by year with coastal erosion. There were a handful of Meadow pipits in the stubble fields and a Northern Wheatear on the path. My best find though was a Black Redstart on the mud cliffs. Having said that, I enjoyed watching a Weasel searching through the mud boulders of the cliff at close range and even managed a couple of photos. On the beach were a couple of Sandwich terns but with the tide ebbing and being in the bay between Flamborough and Spurn decided a sea watch wouldnt be very productive. I checked the hedges near the coast path for some way either side of Atwick but didnt find anything else.

Monday 13th September 2010

Popped into North Cave Wetlands on the way home. An excellent reserve well worth an hour on the way back from a Mega twitch at Filey, Flamborough or Spurn. When the current quarrying operation is completed the reserve may rival Potteric Carrs in significance. There are 3 hides from which to view the series of shallow pools. The main attraction today was a juvenlie Red necked Grebe but there was also a brief sighting of a Marsh Harrier, 2 flocks of Golden plover and a Kingfisher. I must just remark on the value for money birding in East Yorkshire. No charge at North Cave and you can get a cup of Coffee (in a mug) for 50p from the van in the Car park. Puts a lot of other reserves to shame.

Thursday 9 September 2010

The Littles prove a problem

Greenshank, Cliff pool, Kingsbury W.P.


Hobby, Cliff pool


Whinchat, Caldecote


Thursday 9th Sept. 2010

Having a problem catching up with Little birds, Little tern yesterday, Little Stint today but the days Migrant watch had started in spendid style at Caldecote Hall with no fewer than 5 Whinchats along the river. The recently harvested Bean fields had a small flock of, maybe 13 or so Skylarks and a single Meadow pipit. After lunch I moved on to Coleshill Quarry. I'd had a report of 3 Little Stint flying through Ladywalk from Steve Cawthray but the search proved fruitless. At Cliff pool, Kingsbury Water Park there were 2 Hobby, 2 Little Egrets and a Greenshank.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

One good Tern ?

Dunlin, Draycote Water

Ringed Plover

Wednesday 8th Sept. 2010

Went to Draycote Water again this morning in the hope of adding Little tern to my County year list. It was quite misty over there which I took as a good sign the bird might still be there. There was little wind as the process of scanning the reservoir began. A Little Gull and 3 Juvenile Black terns was a good start. The visability improved and it was good to see the Red necked Phalarope still there having escaped the attentions of roosting gulls. I met up with Steve Cawthray, a stranger to these parts, but anxious to add the Phalarope to his County year list. We searched for some considerable time during which we kept a look out for the Little Tern, before we finally relocated the Phalarope. We had one or two sightings of possible Little tern but all very distant and we dismissed them as Common tern. Steve provided lunch in the form of half a large Pork pie which I was very grateful for before he left to organise a work party at Ladywalk N.R.
I wandered back towards Rainbow corner. There were 3 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin on Hensborough Bank. A Hobby appeared briefly no doubt eyeing up the large flock of House Martins for a possible meal. On Draycote Bank a tern flew past quiet close which I instinctively tried to photograph as it went past. I thought no more about it until met up with Bob Hazel who mentioned amongst other things that he'd recently seen the Little tern again and that what I had assumed at distance was a Common tern had in fact been the Little tern. We picked out a small tern which kept landing on the water amongst groups of Black headed Gulls. The tern did indeed look small in comparison but at such distance I felt unable to make a positive identification.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Red necked Phalarope at Draycote Water

A happy bunch

Spot the spot, see Dave Hutton's Blog site for images of the bird itself

Tuesday 7th Sept.2010

Having spent a good deal of Monday driving up and down motorways I had plenty to do of a domestic nature today. However, the best laid plans were thrown into confusion when I got a barrage of texts (well 2) saying there was Red necked Phalarope at Draycote water. Despite further messages that the bird had flown and was being looked for I carried on and was relieved on arrival to see a small, but beautifully proportioned group of birders clearly focussed out on the water. A quick look through Terry Southgate's scope confirmed they were indeed looking at the Red necked Phalarope (166) It was distant, swimming backwards and fowards in continual motion. As we watched somebody picked out a couple of Black Terns and then John Judge who had left a few minutes earlier phoned up to say there was a Sandwich tern flying over the water. It was turning out to be quite an interesting few minutes.
In the late afternoon I found myself at Coleshill Quarry. There still wasnt much water but it was worth a quick look. A Greenshank was heard but not located and a Common Snipe was seen on the edge of a small pools. At Shustoke there was still several Common terns, a Common Sandpiper and a Kingfisher.

Monday 6 September 2010

A bad case of wind

Spotted Flycatcher, Bempton RSPB

Pied Flycatcher

Monday 6th Sept 2010

Drove up to Bempton, E.Yorks. today with Dennis Woodward on news that a Brown Flycatcher was still present near Buckton. We didnt see it. The sightings seemed a little vague but after a mist net was erected in the small patch of Gorse where the bird had been seen in the previous day there were no further sightings. Why it was necessary to put up the nets I havent a clue but the real villian of the day was the wind which moved round to the south with increasing strength. Although the dell with the Gorse was partially sheltered, most birds were staying low and under cover. Willow warblers, Garden warbler and Redstart showed occasionally but no sign of the Brown Flycatcher. We gave it a couple of hours. Back at the RSPB we checked the bushes round the car park. There was a Redstart, a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Pied Flycatchers and a Red breasted Flycatcher which gave the briefest of glimpses. Dennis was in need of sustenance, I needed a drink so we headed for the cafes in Flamborough. Both closed. What! No Flycatcher and no Breakfast, how bad could it get. Luckily for me I'd got emergency rations in the form of a Pork pie but Dennis had to settle for a chocolate bar from the Post office.
We checked out the gulley at South landing, the top part was well sheltered from the wind but there was very little activity.

Friday 3 September 2010

Local stuff

Reed warbler, near Caldecote,Warks
Reed warbler

Reed warbler

Reed warbler

Southern Hawker

Migrant Hawker, Alvecote pools

Bean harvesting

Ridin' shotgun

One for the pot

Friday 3rd September 2010

Its become a bit of a habit but the bushes near the Coventry canal near Caldecote have become part of my daily routine. Today the first bird I saw was a Redstart but it became elusive which is birder talk meaning I didnt see it again. I did see the Reed warblers again though and this time managed to get some reasonable photos. Todays birding was interupted though by some lads in a Land Rover driving round with shot guns. I nodded at them and they nodded at me and we both went about our businesses. Things got interesting later on though when the Bean harvester went by with a guy riding Shotgun. Gawd knows what elf and safety would have to say about it but its an age old country activity. He was popping away at the rabbits as they ran out of the Bean field across the sheep pasture.
I moved on to Legion Wood near Grendon where there was a few Willow warblers and Chiffchaffs and a single Goldcrest near the parking area but little else. Moving on to Mill pool, Alvecote I met up with Roy who had just picked out 3 Pintail from the large number of Wildfowl on the pool which also included a few Wigeon.

Total number of bird species reported in Warwickshire so far this year = 188