Wednesday 28 December 2011

A local walk

An area of scattered Hawthorns which attracts a number of passage migrants such as Redstart in the Autumn as well as good numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare in winter.

Spoil heaps from local Quarries

Paths cut across stubble fields which attract flocks of Skylark, Meadow pipit and Linnet


The river Anker

The flood meadows attract passage migrants such as Wheatear and Yellow wagtail in spring,

Reed Buntings are regular in river side vegetation and hedges

Bridge over the river Anker

Open fields and hedges attract Whinchat on passage

The area of rough grassland and Docks are worth checking for Stonechat while Grey Heron can be seen anywhere along the river.

I only got the briefest of glimpses of Kingfisher today but they can be seen from several bridges which cross the river.

The flood meadows support at least 4 Kestrel

Rough grassland and fragments of Woodland, which still support Nuthatch,Treecreeper and both Great spotted and Green Woodpecker.

Rough grassland

Lane down to the Riding stables

The Sheepfields are good for Yellow wagtail, and even attracted Blue-headed Wagtails 2 years ago.

The Coventry canal, there must have been some sort of competition going on near the Marina. I often wonder why fishermen need poles to allow them to fish 6 inches from the far bank when they could just walk round to the opposite bank and use a 'normal' rod. All the blokes were in deep concentration or bloody miserable as they either completely ignored me or grunted a response when I quipped that I was too old to be limbo dancing under or hurdling over the poles that stretched over the tow path.

I only managed to see a single Redpoll today , but the canal side Alders usually have flocks of Goldfinches and sometimes Lesser Redpoll and Siskin.

The canal continues north passing Mancetter and Atherstone before leaving Warwickshire near Polesworth.

The Anchor pub, journeys end.

Wednesday 28th December
Seems like I haven't been out of the house over Christmas so a bit of exercise was needed today.So I took the camera out for a bit of a jaunt. The walk is about 5 miles using paths and canal towpaths around the hamlet of Caldecote which is between Nuneaton, Atherstone and Hartshill. Other birds which have been seen on this walk in the past include Great white Egret, Grey Partridge, Grey Wagtail, Reed warbler and Tree sparrow.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Dream on

Christmas Eve
Wish I'd got a stunning image of a Hawk Owl on a snow covered pine stump in Bentley Woods, Atherstone this morning but couldnt even manage any snow, so the fantasy goes on. I cant even manage a Robin on a bit of Holly so you will all have to make do with my Best wishes for a happy Christmas and the odd Mega in the new year.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Volunteers wanted !

Thursday 22nd December 2011
The shortest day of the year was also one of the sunniest, a great day to be away from the shops and a great day to be out enjoying open spaces. The few birds I did see around Kingsbury Water Park were also enjoying unseasonably mild weather. Little Egret, Kingfisher and Common Snipe looked particularly respendant on Cliff pool from the canal hide. A fellow watcher from the hide was ecstatic about the behaviour of the Kingfisher trying to stun a fish at such close range. Clearly a novice with her Mitchell Beazley Birdwatcher's Guide at the ready it was great to see the excitement watching birds can generate and the pleasure watching relatively common birds can give. Cliff pool was one of the venues I visited regularly when I rediscovered Bird watching, as it was then called, back in the 1980s. It has been somewhat neglected of late and Steve Cawthray is organising workparties to try and improve the habitat.

The first session is on Wednesday 11th January 2012. Volunteers are asked to meet at Broomey Croft at 10.00am.

Monday 19 December 2011

Is it Christmas yet ?

Wednesday 21st December
Pre Christmas birding has been typically quiet. A bit of birding here and there in between visits to various butchers to buy the traditional festive pork and game pies etc. I'm in charge of cold meats and pickles you see, which I suppose is reasonable as 50% of my family is vegetarian. I'm also in charge of alchohol, enough said. Although I should perhaps mention the brewery challenge. The challenge is to sample a pint of ale from each of the 12 independant breweries in Warwickshire during the month of January when the birding is a bit slow. I've already started my research and come up with a complication straight away. The Tunnel brewery, formally based at the Lord Nelson is moving to a farmhouse a couple of miles away and the Lord Nelson is setting up its own brewery at the pub and hopes to be up and running in January.
Highlights of various local walks in the last couple of days has produced Raven at Bentley woods and Kingfisher on the Coventry canal near Mancetter, like I said, its a bit quiet.
Had a walk round Middleton Lakes yesterday but same story, a single Redshank, Water Rail and 25 or so Golden plover, while at Middleton Hall lake there was another Redshank and 2 Green Sandpipers. The gull roost at Coton was also also disappointing with only one Yellow legged Gull and another Water rail.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Bird of the Day

Common Snipe, Brandon Marsh N.R.
Thursday 15th December 2011
Bird of the Day: Common Snipe - Brandon Marsh, Good views from East Marsh hide but not much else around at Mid-day except the work parties hard at it on Newlands. Best of the rest: Sparrowhawk, Golden plover, Bullfinch, Kingfisher and Cetti's warbler.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

More Ducks

Eider, Rudyard Lake, Staffs.
Tuesday 13th December 2011

Well Duck in the singular. Went in search of a lonely drake Eider on Rudyard lake in North Staffs. Again a lovely area to explore with the moors and wooded valleys not far away. Met up with Graham Mant who wanted to lead me to a secret spot for Dipper watching after viewing the Eider. Trouble was, it was so secret Graham couldn't find it. So once again I dipped on Dipper. It started to snow a bit so I left Graham to search the moors. I hope he finds his way back OK. As to whether the Eider is real or not I wouldn't like to say. The only other one I've seen inland was on a small lake in Worcestershire. They very occasionally do turn up in the Midlands but I'm still waiting for my first Warwickshire Eider.

Monday 12 December 2011

Day for Ducks

Pintail, Draycote Water, Warks.
Pintail, 3 of the 4 birds on site today

Pintail, a rather scruffy looking 1w

Red breasted Merganser

Red breasted Merganser


Monday 12th December 2011
Visited Draycote Water this morning. Despite the almost cloudless skies and light wind there were very few visitors around. I was joined by Francoise complete with bicycle, camera and off-piste skiing jacket, along Hensborough bank. She spotted a pair of Pintail straight away. Other Draycote regulars were in fine form as Bob and Keith had located the female Red breasted Merganser on Draycote Bank. I did manage to locate 4 Dunlin for myself, which were flying around with a flighty flock of Lapwing but Bob ended up Top birder for the day with a female Common Scoter on the opposite shore from the Sailing club.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Blue Birds

Roller, Cyprus
Little green Bee-eater , Israel
Kingfisher, Brandon Marsh

White headed Duck, Turkey

Blue cheeked Bee-eater, Turkey

Palestine Sunbird

Jay, Lesbos

Blue Rock Thrush, Morocco

Blue headed Wagtail, Cyprus

Azure Tit, Finland

Red flanked Bluetail, Shetland Isles

Sunday 11th December 2011

Continueing the theme of the colour Blue, I've dug out a few images of 'blue' birds to brighten up a fairly dull December day.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Blue is the colour

Friday 9th December 2011
Garden stuff, - building up a nice little feeding group of House sparrows, hardly worth a mention a few years back but numbers have fallen alarmingly in my area. A nice change from Blackbirds and Woodpigeons. Also 8 unidentified geese heading SW, this morning ,definitely black geese and definitely not Canadas so may have been Brent.
Bit of local birding on what started out as a lovely morning weatherwise. A stroll round Caldecote Hall produced a number of regular species including: Skylark c60, Kestrel 3, Peregrine imm., Heron 3, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove 15, Green Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush. Numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare were much lower than last week. It was then on to Bentley Woods. About 25 Chaffinch and Pied wagtail were feeding in the Maize stubble field at the entrance. Further into the wood a mobile finch flock fed in the Larch trees, among the Redpoll, Siskin and Goldfinch were 3 Crossbill. Other birds seen or heard were Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Greater spotted Woodpecker and Common Buzzard. Unfortunately my visit was cut short by a heavy shower.
And another thing;
Claret and blue is good, blue on a Kingfisher is stunning, blue on a Red flanked Bluetail amazing but blue Christmas lights draped around somebodies garage door like the entrails of a radioactive cow I find frankly, quite gawdy, Its an age thing I know but I dont find the penetrating electronic blue which seems so popular this year in any way attractive or in the least bit Christmasy. There, I've said it, my little rant is over. A couple of months ago it was Chinese lanterns polluting the countryside, today its blue lights next year I'll find something else to moan about I'm sure.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Doors, floors and a Drake Smew

Smew,Middleton Lakes RSPB, Staffs.


Wednesday 7 th December 2011

Not much time for birding today, had to supervise the laying of the flooring in the kitchen. When I say supervise I mean I was there. Have I already bored everyone with the Saga of our kitchen? Its worth a blog of its own. I will just tell you the latest episode though, the bit before the flooring was put down. The idea was to have a new kitchen door and while we were at it a new front door as well. Well when the doors came they were the wrong way round. The house number, knocker etc. what they call in the trade the furniture was on the inside. I kid ye not. I mean I know where I live, at least most of the time if you dont count Thursdays, so whats the game. I give up. Just dont mention home improvements at the moment. One day it will all be alright, I hope. Anyway did manage a mini bird at Middleton Lakes on the way to Sutton Coldfield. The drake Smew was in evidence and the 3 Dunlin were seen in flight with flocks of Lapwing and Golden plover.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Around the Tame valley

Water Rail, Ladywalk N.R. - Water Rail numbers undoubtedly declined during the severe early winter weather last year. This showy individual at Ladywalk may well become a popular attraction during the coming winter period.
Water Rail

Water Rail

Little Egret

Sunday 4th December 2011

Visited a good many sites in the Tame valley, in an area between Coleshill and Tamworth, over the past week. A brief summary of some of the birds seen: Shustoke- Siskin, Whitaker Heath- Coal tit, Ham's Hall - Sparrowhawk, Chiffchaff and Grey Wagtail, Ladywalk: Bittern, Water Rail, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Cetti's warbler, Tawny Owl, Grey Wagtail, Coton: Cetti's warbler, Kingsbury W.P. Little Egret, Middleton Lakes: Dunlin, Redshank, Golden plover, Goldcrest, Lesser Redpoll, and Stonechat. Nothing to get too excited about but I'll keep looking and enjoy what does turn up locally.
And by the way: if anyone has tried to contact me by e'mail and wonders why the ignorant so-and-so hasnt bothered to reply it aint entirely my fault. Ive had to get a new e'mail address and cant access messages sent to the old one. Sorry but Talk- Talk arn't very cooperative when it comes to Talk,talk. Similarly with the comments on the blog. I cant reply to those good folk kind enough to make positive comments. Sorry, particularly regular contributors like Max and John and Sue from Cornwall.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Bittern Naturally

Bittern, Ladywalk N.R.
Water Rail

Water Rail

Thursday 1st December 2011

I had neglected Ladywalk recently, so decided to give it a go today. The bushes on the walk down to the hides seemed to hold good flocks of winter thrushes, with Bullfinchs and Great spotted Woodpeckers also showing. A grey wagtail was also seen on the puddles formally known as the fishing pools. From Hide B I only had to wait a matter of a few minutes before the Bittern was seen creeping through the reeds. Although it was never out in the open it was still a treat to see such a magnificent bird. It flew further along the reed bed and showed briefly before disappearing completely for the rest of the afternoon. A Water rail was seen moving restlessly in the reeds and a Sparrowhawk was seen at close quarters. Other birds seen on the reserve included roosting Tawny Owl, and Goosander with Cetti's warbler heard at the North end.