Thursday 29 March 2012

Sunny North Warks.

Scaup, Shustoke reservoirChiffchaff
Thursday 29th March 2011
In an effort to avoid the Cock-up police, had a gentle scout round more familiar ground, starting with a vigil at Shustoke res. with Steve Cawthray. The drake Scaup was still there but the only migrant we had was a single Sand Martin. Coton was even less impressive but Cliff pool, Kingsbury W.P. boasted 2 Curlew, Little ringed Plover, several Common Snipe, Redshank, 2 Kingfisher and a Little Egret.

Friday 23 March 2012

Cannock Chase

Crossbill, Cannock Chase, StaffsStonechatWoodlark
Thursday 22nd March 2012
Found a few quiet areas on the Chase to walk around. Not a huge amount of bird activity but did enjoy a couple of Woodlark singing high up. A flock of Crossbill stayed high up in the pines, while down at ground level Stonechats brightened up the heather.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Garganey at Middleton Hall Lake

Garganey, Middleton Hall LakeGarganey
Wednesday 21st March 2012
No apologies for posting a couple more images of the drake Garganey still at Middleton Hall Lake. The bird spent more time out on the pool, surface feeding in the late afternoon sun.

Monday 19 March 2012

Garganey at Middleton Hall Lake

Garganey, Middleton Hall
Monday 19th March 2012

Highlight of today's and indeed yesterday's birding in North Warwickshire was a drake Garganey found at Middleton Hall Lake. The bird could be very elusive for long periods disappearing into the reeds lining the northern shore but showed well when it did emerge. Other birds in the near vicinity today included; Kingfisher 2, Green Sandpiper, Redshank and Curlew. Chiffchaff numbers increase daily and Cetti's warblers were in the usual areas.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Early migrants begin to hit the Midlands

Saturday 17th March 2012
Ok, got my PC back after a couple of days buried under dust sheets. So a bit of up dating to do. Yesterday was quite interesting, particularly Coton Pools where 2 Sand Martins were joined briefly by an early Swallow. The Swallow flew off east but the Sand Martins hung around being joined by 2 more just before I left. Also in the area were Cettis warbler, and Grey wagtail at the railway bridge Lea Marston and a singing Chiffchaff at the entrance to Whitacre Heath N.R. The Curlew remains at Kingsbury W.P. and there are still flocks of Lesser Redpoll and dwindling numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare at various locations.
Also visited Cannock chase again with much more success this time. Had a good walk round 2 areas. The weather was completely different in the two locations. One, warm and sunny the other cold and misty. Despite the weather managed to get good views of 3 Woodlark, and the same number of Crossbill, strangely all female. A Great grey Shrike was seen in pursuit of a small flock of Siskin, but bird of the day was a cracking male Brambling in almost complete breeding plummage feeding amongst Beechmast with Great tits and Chaffinch on the edge of a small car park. Alas no camera. On the way back popped into Legion Wood and Bentley Wood but a flock of 20C Lesser Redpolls were the only note worthy birds on view.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Mrs Overall is alive and well and serving in Tamworth

Grey Partridge, Tree sparrow, Yellowhammer and a Rabbit

Grey Partridge
Grey Partridge

Corn Bunting


Tuesday 13th March 2012
Its only a bit further on up the river Tame from my usual haunts around Kingsbury to travel up the A38 to Alrewas and Barton under Needwood. Although deep in Staffs. these areas are well worth searching for passage waders and farmland species. The working Quarries known as Branston Gravel pits have left deep and shallow water pits viewable from a public path. On Tuesday the 1w White fronted goose showed well and waders were represented by 3 Curlew, 30c Golden plover, 7 Ringed plover, 3 Ruff and a few Redshank and Oystercatcher. At Whitemoor Haye a pair of Grey Partridge showed well with the flock of Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting and Yellowhammers.

I stopped at Acorn Antiques, I mean ASDA at Tamworth on the way home for a coffee. The cafe was a bit of a comedy with a rather elderly and rotund lady taking the lead role as Mrs Overall. As I waited patiently to be served everyone in front of me seemed to have a problem with their order hence the queue didnt move very fast but it would still have outpaced Mrs Overall. I was just grateful I didnt want soup. Mrs Overall was doing her best but none of the coffee machines seemed to work. You could still get black coffee but then Mrs Overall had to go and get milk and .......

Monday 12 March 2012

Yellow browed Warbler in Worcester

Sunday 11th March 2011
A phone call from Steve Haynes had me scuttling around Nuneaton on Saturday to catch a lift to Worcester. A Yellow browed warbler had been found on the outskirts of Worcester and with things seemingly quiet locally and with YBWs being a very scarce visitor to the West Mids it was well worth seeing. When we arrived on site there were a handful of birders spread out along a stretch of cycle track where the bird had been seen last an hour or so ago. The track was lined with hedges and trees providing corridors for birds to move along. The bird proved to be very elusive in these hedges and it was some time before it was seen again and then only briefly. Eventually though it gave itself up but was constantly on the move and never easy.
Monday 12th March
Spent virtually the whole day at Whitacre Heath N.R., Ladywalk N.R. and Middleton Lakes. Saw a good selection of birds but only a fly over Curlew at Ladywalk could be described as out of the ordinary.

Saturday 10 March 2012

The Birds and the Bees (and a Butterfly)

Blue cheeked Bee-eater, Turkey
Little green Bee-eater, Egypt

European Bee-eater, Cyprus

European Bee-eater

Isabelline Shrike, Shetland Isles

Red backed Shrike, Turkey (to bee eaten or not to bee eaten)

Hoopoe, Turkey

Great grey Shrike, Cannock Chase

Treecreeper - might be a bee in there somewhere

Saturday 10th March 2012

With the spring almost upon us a few shots of birds with bees (or similar seemed appropriate)

Thursday 8 March 2012

Avocets moving North

Avocet, Among the Black headed Gulls at Middleton Lakes RSPB reserve
Thursday 8th March 2012
Managed to catch up with an Avocet on the North pit of Middleton Lakes, RSPB. but not much else to report in the area.

Monday 5 March 2012

Lower Tame Valley

Black tailed Godwit, Coton pools, Warks.
Black tailed Godwit

Siskin, Whitacre Heath N.R.

Lesser Redpoll

Monday 5th March 2012
The morning began with a walk round Whitacre Heath Nature reserve in the hope of seeing a variety of woodland species including Lesser spotted Woodpecker. No sign of the lesser spot but did see Treecreeper, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin. At Coton a Black tailed Godwit was a nice surprise among the Black headed Gulls in the shallow water near the road bridge. At Cliff pool, Kingsbury Water Park was a Curlew another indication that birds are starting to move back to their breeding grounds. The Curlew will clearly move on to the moors but Oystercatcher were involved in courtship and establishing territory. With the wind strengthening I moved on to Alvecote pools where a check of Mill pool produced 9 Shelduck, a Common Snipe and a Jack Snipe.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Branston Gravel pits, Staffs.

Sunday 4th March 2012
I hadnt intended to do any birding on Saturday for various reasons but when it became clear Sunday was likely to be a wash-out I decided to visit Branston Gravel pits near Burton on Trent for a change. Although a working quarry a public footpath does allow some viewing of the pits. When I eventually found the footpath most of the birds were quite distant, particularly the flock of Geese which were in a field beyond the main pit. My interest in the geese was a 1w White fronted goose which has been wintering with the Canada geese. Having seen the White Front I turned my attention to the far shoreline. There was a large flock of Golden plover and many Lapwings, but also among them : 9 Curlew, 3 Ruff, a few Redshank, 3 Dunlin and a couple of pairs of Oystercatcher.

Saturday 3 March 2012

Big Jim saves the day

Pintail, Brandon Marsh N.R.

Thursday 1st March 2012

Did a strange thing today, went bird watching at Brandon Marsh without my camera. Quite deliberately, as the weather was gloomy and I needed my scope anyway. In the event I began to regret my decision as the sun came out and a pair of Pintail performed in front of east marsh hide. There were other birds on view which I could see perfectly well with bins so no need for the scope. A few Common Snipe, a Green Sandpiper, my first Ringed Plover of the year, a single Golden Plover, Shelduck, Water Rail, Cetti's warbler and a Curlew which flew over calling. Unfortunately no sign of the Med. Gull though which had been putting in regular appearances throughout the week.

I retired for a coffee but had a decision to make; whether to go back in the hope the Med gull might turn up or drive across to Middleton lakes to see the Avocet which had dropped in on the North pit. I walked back to East Marsh hide this time with camera on shoulder. Next came the embarassing bit. Back in hide excitement was mounting as the Pintail woke from their slumbers and headed for the bay in front of the hide. Cameras were readied. At least everybody else's was. Mine was dead. Nothing. Advice from every quarter. Then it dawned on me, there wasnt a battery. Oh well that was that then, but no, all was not lost. Jim Milne just happened to have a spare 7D battery with him. I ran off a few shots, Cheers Jim, Bearded Batman saves the day.