Monday 29 August 2011

Middleton Lakes pulls them in

Monday 29th May 2011
The Bank holiday brought out the usual crowds to Drayton Manor Park but a new attraction up the road at Middleton Lakes RSPB also pulled in the visitors. Despite a fresh wind and sporadic showers hardy Midlands birders were drawn to the newish reserve and there were plenty of birds on view. I hadn't got out of the car before a Hobby flashed over the Car park scattering the flock of House Martins feeding over the Reedbed next to the Heronry. On the new reedbed 'pool' the Curlew Sandpiper flock had increased to 3. There were still 2 Dunlin, 2 Little Stint, a Redshank, several Ringed Plovers and a couple of Little Egret. A Greenshank was also heard from the direction of the Fishers Mill pool. Scanning for waders on the Fishers Mill pool is much more difficult because of thr number of reed covered islands. From the screen the Greenshank was eventually located in company with a smaller wader I couldnt ID. The birds only showed their backs and quickly disappeared around the back of an island. At this point I was pleased to see J A, the Simon King of the West Midlands(although not quite as tall) I told him about the mystery wader. Fortunately it wasn't too long before it showed again and JA had it sorted straight away, juvenile Wood Sandpiper. There were still a few Common Swift and the odd scarecrow about as I walked back to the car to conclude a good couple of hours birding.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Warts and all

Caterpillar of the Buff Ermine Moth

Sunday 28th August 2011
Blogging isnt just about tales of jollying off to see a bird thats just turned up in the Tame valley or Brandon Marsh. Oh no, its much more hit and miss than that. Silly Bloggers like me only tell you about the good times, about birds theyve found or got crippling, once in a life time views of. Today I failed, I dont mind admitting it. OK it was only the Black necked Grebe at Shustoke and as I'm not doing a County year list this year its not so important to see it, but it was irritating not to find it. I did get some exercise though as I practically ran round the pond as Jan was waiting patiently in the car on our way to Sutton. You see you get the real story on this blog, warts and all, not just the glamour. The only bits of hot news I can dredge up involve a sighting of a young Common Whitethroat in the garden yesterday and a Hobby at Shustoke today. Add to this the only photo Ive taken in the last 2 days is of a Buff Ermine caterpillar and you can see I'm really scrapping the barrel. Talking of scrapping the barrel I did get some amazing glamour shots of the Draycote regulars Messrs BH, RH and CP returning from their daily romp but having taken advice I'll just post the Moth larvae.

Saturday 27 August 2011

The New Reedbed pool, Middleton

Saturday 27th August 2011
May I begin with an apology to those people who post comments about the blog. I have tried to reply, but recently my setup wont let me. I shall keep trying! Yesterday I was relieved to get a message from Geoff Williams via Tom P. that there was a Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint at Middleton lakes. With heavy showers still about there was a good chance of more 'drop ins'. So having been 'Kept in' by the persistent rain most of the day it was a good excuse to get out. I met Steve Cawthray in the car park and walked round to the 'new reed bed' pool. In reality this scrape has the least number of reeds of all the pools on the reserve and being very shallow with a large area of exposed mud is superb habitat for migrating shorebirds at the moment. It would be a tragedy if it is eventually covered over with yet more Reedbeds.
Steve and I soon located the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper as well as 2 Little Stint, 2 Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper, maybe 10 Ringed Plovers, several Little ringed Pover, a Greenshank and a flyover Green Sandpiper. We also had 10 Swift overhead. With the rain coming down again it was time to move on. I had a date - with a pint of Hop Gun.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Draycote Water

Sanderling, Draycote Water
Black tern


Sanderling with Dunlin


Sanderling with Dunlin

Juvenile Ringed Plover

Wednesday 24th August 2011

With water levels at there lowest for several years the prospects for a bumper crop of shorebirds at Draycote Water in September looks good. Prospects for photography, however, are not so good with the shoreline getting further and further away from the dam walls. Today there were just 7 wader species on show with Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed plover, Little ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper in the region of the Farborough spit and Greenshank and Ruff at the Inlet. A further 3 Ruff flew past the inlet towards Rainbow corner but were not relocated. There was no sign of the Black necked Grebe reported yesterday but a juvenile Shelduck and 2 Wheatear were seen. There were also 3 Black terns a juvenile Arctic tern and 2 or 3 Common terns over the water.

Monday 22 August 2011

Migrants on the Move

Whinchat, Caldecote, Warks.

Whinchat - 2 of the 4 at this site

Common Redstart, Sutton Park N.N.R.

Spotted Flycatcher

Typical scene in North Warwickshire

Monday 22nd August 2011

With rainfall forecast over the next few day it could well be worth exploring a local patch for migrants. Certainly there are a good many birds on the move at the moment judging from todays evidence. Caldecote flood meadows near Nuneaton produced 4 Whinchats, 2 Wheatear and a Stonechat while Sutton Park NNR had up to 20 Common Redstart, several Spotted Flycatchers and a Crossbill.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Birds,Banter and Beer

Saturday 20th August 2011
A walk round Caldecote Hall on Thursday produced a Stonechat, 20 Skylark, 6 Yellow wagtails, 200 Lesser black backed Gulls and 3 Herring gulls. On Friday I went to the Birdfair at Rutland Water. The car park was further away from the marquees than ever but there was no queuing, except for the toilets. A bonus though was the Village Hall where the ladies of the village had excelled themselves with an impressive display of home made cakes at very reasonable prices as opposed the the ridiculous prices inside the show. Every year I wonder why I go, perhaps I'm curious to see what new indispensible accessories have been discovered for folk to spend their money on. Although to be honest the Marquees were much the same as previous years. I did meet some old friends from various trips, which was great, and I did enjoy part of an entertaining talk from Simon King. Stopped at Eyebrook Res. on the way back where there was a sprinkling of the commoner waders including Dunlin, Ruff, Greenshank, Redshank, Ringed plover and Little ringed Plover. Nearer home, a need for a refreshment break forced me to stop at The Wood Farm Brewery to sample their excellent Webb Ellis Bitter.
As a footnote: I had a phone call from Malta this morning telling me Jan and I had been selected for a 80% paid holiday in Malta. The poor girl in Malta then had to endure a 10 minute lecture on why I would never go to Malta because of their record on hunting migratory birds.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Blessing in Disguise

Wednesday 17th August 2011
I managed to sprain my ankle at Middleton lakes on Monday. After connecting with the Wood Sand and a sleepy Greenshank I managed to hobble to Cliff pool, Kingsbury, where there was a rather more active Greenshank, Hobby and Little Egret. Tuesday was a write off with the ankle playing up so its was a quiet sort of day. Blessing in disguise really cos I spent the day sorting out my BTO Atlas data. Also learnt of a pair of Barn Owls fledging 4 young just over half a mile from my house. Only other local observations have been the odd Swift still over the house. Today (Wednesday) I did manage to check out Caldecote meadow and Alvecote pools. The most notable birds were a pair of juvenile Greenshank on Teal pool, a Little Egret and a few adult Common Tern.

Saturday 13 August 2011

Little Gull at Shustoke Res., Warks.

Little Gull, juvenile, Shustoke Reservoir, Warks.
Little Gull
Little Gull

Little Gull

Little Gull

Saturday 13th August 2011
A juvenile Little Gull at Shustoke today brought to an end a week when there were strong indications that the Autumn passage is starting to pick up some momentum. Greenshank were certainly on the move with 3 seen at Draycote Water in the week and 4 together on Fisher's Mill pool yesterday as well as another Wood Sandpiper on the superb 'Reedbed pool', also on the Middleton Lakes reserve. There has also been an increase in sightings of Common Redstart in suitable habitat in the area with 4 seen yesterday.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Pigeons progress

Well I expect you've been wondering how my garden (Wood) pigeons have been getting along since being featured in a previous post recently. To be honest I havent seen much of them until this morning and they seem to have started feeding independantly on the ground. They just better leave my Courgettes alone or they'll be in trouble

The Antler, this attractive little moth found its way into the moth trap a few days ago. The first one recorded in the garden. Below is a small selection of moths also seen recently in the garden

Ruby Tiger

Orange Swift

Lime speck Pug

Sallow Kitten

Mother of Pearl, Kingsbury Water Park

As regards birding had a good look round the Tame valley from Shustoke to Middleton lakes. It turned out to be a Green Sandpiper and not much else day. There was 1 at Middleton Lakes, 1 on Cliff pool and 3 on the River Tame at Kingsbury but apart from that the best bird of the day was a Hobby which flew past the end of my garden. Oh, and I had a bit of shock this morning. Stopped at Atherstone for a haircut and provisions for the day and guess what, the Pie shop, ie Gales Farm foods: locally sourced produce, save the environment, save local enterprise etc, etc
is no more, just a notice on the window about the greedy landlord wanting too much rent.

Monday 8 August 2011

Wood Sandpiper, Draycote Water - Take 2

Wood Sandpiper, Draycote Water, Warks.
Kestrel,enjoying the strong wind

Wood Sandpiper
Little ringed Plover


Black tailed Godwit

Black tailed Godwit

Monday 8th August 2011
With a fresh wind and the prospect of the odd heavy shower Draycote Water seemed as good a place as any to spend half a day birding. I was greeted with the now customary waving of arms from Farborough spit. This time it was a guy called Keith who I'd met last week at Brandon. He was accompanied by Bob H. who I swear hadn't moved since Friday. Whether or not it was the same Wood Sandpiper he was photographing we'll never know but although it was in the same place Bob thought it was a different bird. Despite the heavy showers over the weekend the water level had dropped even more and the prospects for wader watching over the next couple of months could be excellent. Dunlin numbers had increased on the spit with a few juvenile Little ringed plovers and a Wheatear. At the inlet a single summer plummaged Black tailed Godwit was trying to rest while up to 200 House Martin and 9 Common Swift flew overhead.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Wood Sandpiper, Draycote Water

Wood Sandpiper, Draycote water, Warks.
Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Dunlin, juvenile

Dunlin, Adult

Red breasted Merganser

Red breasted Merganser

Red breasted Merganser

Red breasted Merganser

Thursday 4th August 2011

It was always going to be a Wood Sandpiper day and with the forecast for rain during most of the day it seemed sensible to head for somewhere with a hide. So Brandon Marsh it was then, plenty of rain but no sign of the Wood Sandpiper seen earlier in the day. 3 Green Sandpiper and 1 Common Sandpiper but no sign of the Wood Sand. As the rain eased I moved on to Draycote Water in the hope the Red breasted Merganser might still be there. As I began to walk towards Toft bay I detected a moment in the distance at Farborough spit. It looked as if it could be a birder and he was definitely trying to attract my attention, either that or the unfortunate demented sole was being attacked by a swarm of killer bees. Even in the bins I couldn't make out who it was (although I should have guessed), but he certainly had my attention. Now years of not very selective breeding have given birders the innate ability to respond to certain stimuli, like, 'I think I'm on the bird' will illicit the immediate response 'where the bloody 'ell are you looking' etc. Similarly a sudden coordinated mass moment of birders will trigger off others to follow. In this case the wild beckonings from Farborough spit caused me to run, well shuffle, at a fair pace though, along Farborough bank. Using the accepted order of magnitude the gesticulations had to rate a Spoon-billed Sandpiper at least. As I approached I could make out Richard Mays and cap. The beckoning signals had changed to slow down you'll have a heart attack you old goat signals. Bob Hazel was completely unconcerned about the goings on as he continued to photograph a Wood Sandpiper. Having missed what could have been the same bird at Brandon it was great to see this one at relatively close range. There was also a couple of Dunlin and a Ringed Plover in the same area. In my hast I'd ignored the Red breasted Merganser back along the bank but going back it was still giving good views. Just before the heavy clouds rolled over again we had 2 Hobby high overhead to conclude an eventful morning at Draycote Water.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Highs and lows

Common Blue, good numbers at Middleton Lakes,RSPB
Common Blue

Tuesday 2nd August 2011

I've been doing some smash and grab birding over the last few days so this is really a summary. Mill pool, Alvecote has been quiet with only a couple of Lesser Whitethroats and a single Little Egret to get excited about. I know, that good. Middleton Lakes and Kingsbury produced Greenshank(both days), Wood Sandpiper, LRP, Barn Owl, Raven, Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Kestrel, Buzzard and Cuckoo. The Cuckoo was perhaps the biggest surprise flying past at head height as if I wasn't there. A couple of people reported Black tailed Godwit but I didnt see any sign despite a good look.