Tuesday 31 July 2012

Working the Patch

Tuesday 31st July 2012
Common Buzzard, Higham on the Hill, Leics.
A walk round the local patch near Caldecote got off to a good start with a pair of Grey wagtails on the canal section. The bushes were also productive with the first Common Redstart, a juvenile, to be seen on 'Autumn' passage. A presumed Reed warbler and several phylloscs were seen in the same area as well as a third Grey wagtail. There seemed to be Green Woodpecker everywhere, so some species at least have had a decent breeding season. I went up to Higham on the Hill yesterday in the evening with a view to photographing a dramatic sunset but the only drama was a serious discussion with a group of horses about why they shouldn't eat me. In the end the only thing worth photographing was a fox which happened along.

Red Fox

Saturday 28 July 2012

Black tailed Godwits arrive in North Warks.

Saturday 28th July 2012
Black tailed Godwit, Cliff pool, Kingsbury W.P.
Black tailed Godwit with Lapwings

Spent the morning in an unsuccessful attempt to find Scarlet Tigers locally before moving on to Kingsbury via Caldecote. The objective at Kingsbury was to combine a bit of Model Trainspotting with a bit of Beer tasting and a bit of Birding. A very pleasant afternoon as it turned out. Would recommend Train and Ale events in the park in the future.
The movement of Black tailed Godwits just reached North Warwickshire with a single summer plummaged bird found amongst the Lapwings on Cliff  pool this afternoon, with a larger flock reported just to the north at Middleton Lakes RSPB. The number of Little Egret continues to rise steadily with 7 now on Cliff pool. Thanks should go to the volunteers who have cleared many of the islands of vegetation on Cliff pool to allow migrating birds such as the Black tailed Godwit to 'rest up' on their migration south.

Friday 27 July 2012

Just in case

Friday 27th July 2012
I enjoyed a mid-morning walk around Caldecote before it got too warm, more in hope than expectation but it paid off with good views of a juvenile Cuckoo. Not much else though, a few Skylarks and Yellow wagtails and the odd Stock dove but that was about it. A mystery warbler but no Reed Buntings or Linnets which I usually see somewhere along the tracks.

Cuckoo, Adult - photo taken in Lesbos in 2006

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Birding v The Olympics

Wednesday 25th July 2012
What has the Tame valley got in common with Womens football ? Very little excitement. To be fair I havent seen very much Women's International Football so perhaps I shouldnt judge till I've at least seen a match from start to finish, but to be honest life is too short. This isnt a sexist thing, in the majority of Olympic sports the technical ability of women is on a par with the men and in some events surpasses the men. In soccer, from what Ive seen women just dont have it in terms of ball control and team cohesion, under any sort of pressure skill breaks down. Perhaps its early days and the sport will develop, we will see.
Anyway all that was a roundabout way of saying local birdwatching is rather quiet at the moment. I saw one Green Sandpiper and one Common Sandpiper in the valley today as well as 4 Little Egret on Cliff pool. Large numbers of Lapwing are taking advantage of the reappearance of the various islands on Cliff pools and up to 20 Common terns were in the area. A Curlew was heard near Fisher's Mill as well as 3 juvenile Green Woodpeckers and a Kingfisher.

Monday 23 July 2012

Face to Face

Mediterranean Gull with Black headed Gull
Six spot Burnet
Friday 20th July
Most of the interest at the Southern end of the Tame valley was generated by insects today. A single Marbled White and a few Large skippers were seen at Coton as well as an increase in Dragonflies principally Brown Hawkers. At Canal pool meadow there was a significant hatch of Six spot Burnets.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Mud glorious Mud.

19th July 2012
While checking out muddy waterlogged fields as potential wader sites SH came across a Mediterranean Gull with a small group of Black headed gulls in a field between Hurley and Wood End. The churned up Cowfield could just as easily host a Whimbrel or something more interesting in the next couple of months, especially if there continues to be little or no exposed mud in the river valley or reservoir sites.
Mediterranean Gull near Wood End, North Warwickshire
Mediterranean Gull with Black headed Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Mediterranean Gull

Wednesday 18 July 2012

An opinion

Having just read the latest offering from LGRE I feel he doesnt really understand the countryside. Having said that I admit to not having personal knowledge of farming only observations of many years spent largely in rural areas. I agree the countryside and our wildlife are in crisis, and that much of the reason is down to maximising production to satisfy the needs of an overindulgent 'expanding' population. I also disagree with Badger sets being gassed, but the idea of our countryside being fenced off to keep Badgers and Cattle apart is fantasy. Badgers are well equipped to dig so any fencing that cuts across Badger routes would need a major excavation. OK in the flatter lands of the east but not realistic in the rolling hillsides in the west where most cattle production occurs. Hedges would need to be ripped up to have any effective form of fencing. We've made such a mess in terms of planning for a countryside that benefits our native wildlife and the needs of farmers that there are now huge imbalances in the farmland ecosystems such that some predator species thrive to the detriment of many other species including insects, mammals and birds. Many farmland birds have become virtually extinct in my own area over the past 10 years. The only answer we seem to have to redress the balance is to get DEFRA to find a scapegoat species and wipe it out.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Common Scoters in Warwickshire

Saturday 14th July 2012

Common Scoter, Shustoke Res., Warks.
Common Scoter
Common Scoter
Common Scoter
Common Scoter 
Common Scoter
Common Scoter-female, Coton pools
A 'fall' of Common Scoters in North Warwickshire today!

'What a Grey Day'

Friday 13th July 2012
Back to Grey skies and showers in the Tame valley today. Trying to make Common Terns and wet Whitethroats look good in this weather is far beyond my photographic skills. After looking in at Shustoke it was on to Coton where I had a bit of a surprise entering the hide. A Willow warbler. How long it had been there and how it got in with the door closed and all the widows shut is a mystery but it flew off quite happily when I opened a window or two. And that was about as exciting as it got. Two Hobbies were seen at Cliff pool but I gave up trying to count Gadwall. As the afternoon moved on I began to think more about breaking my beer fast as is the custom on Thursday evening and less about discovering the fantasy Mega on the next pool, field, hedge, whatever.

The Coot's Story - a sad end
A happier scene at Brandon Marsh
Common Tern, Shustoke Res.
Willow warbler, Coton hide. Note primary tips completely destroyed on one wing.
Common Whitethroat

Friday 13 July 2012

Breaking news

Thursday 12th July 2012
Bit of a Mega turned up at Brandon Marsh N.R. today, - the Sun, and a few local photographers were there to take advantage of this most unusual event.
Kingfisher, Brandon Marsh N.R.
The only other birds of note were a Green Sandpiper and a few Common tern. Another example of the predatory habits of Lesser black backed gulls was an immature eating a juvenile Black headed gull. The 'star' of the day, the Sun, continued to show well throughout the rest of the day.

Wednesday 11 July 2012


11th July 2012
One or two Redstarts seen in the north of the County today and a trickle of waders in the week but no sign of any passage migrants in the Caldecote area today. A Nutchatch was a new bird for the patch though.
Now I feel the need for a chunter. I'm old enough to remember when Birdwatching was just that - watching birds. Now its a whole social networking thing, if you want it to be of course. You can still do your own thing, you just dont see so much. On the other hand you spend so much time phoning or looking at the internet to see who else has seen what you still dont see much. Most people are sort of in the middle ground we need information but like to 'do a bit' for ourselves. I'ts techno birding, very useful up to a point, but as new media, the lastest must have hits the shops I have to admit I'm struggling: Birdin', Twitchin', Postin', Networkin',Paging, Bloggin', Followin', Bein' followed, snapin', filin', listin', croppin', sharpenin', Tweetin', mowin' the lawn, - too much, too much. WHERE WILL IT END?

Monday 9 July 2012

Yellow legged Gull in the Tame valley

Monday 9th July  2012

Yellow legged Gull
Yellow legged Gull
Yellow legged Gull
Yellow legged Gull
The adult Yellow legged Gull has returned to spend the summer at Kingsbury Water Park. It seems to prefer the larger pools:Hemlingford and Bodymoor heath Waters. Note the moulting inner primaries.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Raindrops keep falling.....

Saturday 7th July 2012
A large number of Swifts were feeding very high over Bentley Woods this morning,They were spread over quite a large area so impossible to give even an estimate. At Shustoke reservoir a Common Sandpiper was seen, perhaps a returning bird. The regular count of 27ish Common tern were still present. At Coton there were 60 Coot and a number of Ringlet butterflies.Cliff pool was completely flooded.
The continuing story of the Coots: yesterdays unrelenting rain had caused the river Tame to flood. Despite the best efforts of the Coots their eggs were now lying in water and were temporarily abandoned as one of the Coots made last ditch efforts to save the nest .
The female carefully tries to roll the egg higher up in the nest, perilously close to the edge.
As the rain hammers down the Coot does her best to incubate the egg
A Common tern during a sunny spell.

Friday 6 July 2012

Where's Noah when you need him?

Friday 6th July 2012
Looked in at most of the Tame valley sites at least once during the week but very little moment yet. Good views of Cetti's, a juvenile Peregrine, Hobby and all the usual breeding warblers. Common Terns at Shustoke res. showed some interest in breeding judging by the noise and pairing off going on. Managed to not see the Little Gull and Mandarin present in the valley this week though.
Desperate measures as Coots react to rising water levels in the Tame valley
More of the nest disappears as waters continue to rise.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Monday 2nd July 2012
Evidence of some breeding success at Shustoke Res. in the form of recently fledged Swallows but a count of 31 Common Terns loafing around an indication of the problems facing many species in the area caused by the poor weather.
Young Swallow

Monday 2 July 2012

Visible Migration, not

2nd July 2012
Really getting into this vis migging idea. Took myself off to a Warks Obs outpost at the Wood Farm Brewery yesterday for a bit of vis migging before the match. Good as anywhere, plenty of sky, no birds in it, but plenty of sky. As a distraction from sky watching I enjoyed a couple of pints of Webb Ellis and met a puppie called Rupert which I think is an excellent name for a puppie. Other trivia included seeing Roland Rat in the sky! Nobody else in my family can see it, what do you think?

There, am I right?
Great view of the Warwickshire countryside

Sunday 1 July 2012

Staying local

1st July 2012
A pinch and a punch on the first of the month to you all. Spent yesterday morning walking local sites. Caldecote Hall area produced a single Yellow wagtail, a good number of Skylarks, 3 Linnets, a couple of Reed Buntings, 2 Oystercatcher flying over and an Emperor Dragonfly.
The fields adjacent to the Coventry canal between the Anchor pub and Atherstone produced very little of interest. Sad to see a good winter site for Tree sparrow along the canal near Mansetter destroyed with hedges replaced by ornamental gardens with none idigenous plants. Thats progress for you.
On a more positive note Steve Haynes has set up a Twitter site for Bird sightings in North Warwickshire called Warks bird obs. The idea is to encourage the reporting of local sightings of birds on the move through the area. This may in turn encourage birders  to do more 'patch' watching and find more birds away from the well watched 'hot spots'. Its worth a try anyway.