Friday 31 August 2012

Oh woh, and thrice Woh

Friday 31st August 2012
I was having such a good day at Cannock Chase, the skies were blue the sun was up, there was nothing more for me to do 'cept watch birds but its raining, raining in my heart. Another 60s classic, I think. Anyway all was going well. I'd managed to find the Whinchat and there was a good supporting cast of chase birds: Stonechat, Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Raven x3, Whitethroat and Willow warbler great even got a few images of the Whinchat and then the message. ' Adult Roseate tern at the Water Park, Kingsbury. Theres me 40 minutes away from my car. Oh woh, thrice woh !! I tried, at least I tried but in the end failed by a few minutes. Well done to all the lads who did make it I didnt need it for my County list but its a dam good bird for Warks.

Whinchat, Cannock Chase, Staffs.

Thursday 30 August 2012

A good day, mainly at Blithfield

Thursday 30th August 2012
Common Redstart
No not Blithfield, about 1mile from home on a local patch on the way back from Blithfield Res. A nice end to the day. Full story after my Thursday evening pint so expect a few spelling mistokes.
Friday 31st August 2012
Goats Milk was on form last night at the Church End tap but to go back to the start of the day at Blithfield Res. Staffs. From the causeway there were a number of Terns offshore coping with a gusty wind. Mostly Common terns with 5/6 Black terns. There was also a juvenile Little Gull sitting on the water with a few Black headed Gulls. Walking round the shoreline a small wader appeared in rapid flight low over the water- a Sanderling. I lost it as it headed back to the causeway but despite despite a short search it could not be relocated. A juvenile Osprey was also seen over the woodland before gaining height and heading off North West.
From the Tad Bay hide there wasnt too long to wait before the juvenile Marsh Harrier put in an appearance albeit distantly over the corn field the other side of the bay.
Marsh Harrier, Blithfield Res. Staffs
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
Common Redstart, Caldecote Bushes, N. Warks.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

If only

Tuesday 29th August 2012
I'm not asking for sympathy, I know I wont get any but Ive just experienced an ' if only' moment. If only I'd gone into the garden 1 minute earlier, if only I'd checked the skies to the west first and not the east, if only the sun hadnt come out at that precise moment, if only Id had my bins with me instead of wasting a minute searching for my car keys to get them - I could have confirmed that the long winged Raptor fast disappearing to the south west being mobbed by a large gull was in fact an Osprey. Probable = zilch, zero, nowt, even for a garden tick.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

He's a dedicated follower of fashion

Monday 28th February
It was going to be a day for Birding. Blithfield looked good with regular sightings of Marsh Harrier but did I really want to go that far. I headed off down the A5, keeping my options open. I'd only got as far as the Merevale estate near Atherstone when I made a decision. A spot of visible migration, there were excellent views from the North facing slope overlooking Legion Wood. Vis migging as it known by those who know involves viewing the skies from some such prominent position and watching or listening to what flies over. Its very fashionable at the moment. Almost as fashionable as Redstart watching. I gave it a good half hour. From my viewpoint I could look north across a corner of Leicestershire on to some distant Derbyshire hills. After half an hour I decided there wasn't much migration going on, visible or otherwise. A couple of Swifts and a handful of hirundines appeared and disappeared but I couldn't tell if they were small groups moving through or a single group moving round the ridge.
Moving on to Mill pool, Alvecote, I had a result. A Greenshank, it flew around Mill pool before settling down on Teal pool. There were also two Common Redstarts in the hedges and half a dozen Sand Martins.
Greenshank, Mill pool Alvecote
 It was just good to see some new birds, but Im afraid despite my best efforts the Greenshank proved the high point of the day. Lea Marston, Haunch Lane, Hurley and Shustoke were all very quiet.


Sunday 26 August 2012

A walk around Caldecote

Sunday 26th August 2012
A Wheatear was  in the potato fields, opposite Caldecote Hall, possibly the same bird as seen mid week. Other than that there were perhaps 30 House Martins and a few Swallow but not much else. A few Skylarks, Stock Dove and Lapwing were also seen. The Gull flock had broken up probably moving on to other fields more recently ploughed. Another birder reported Yellow wagtails still about but I didn't see any. Other birds I did see included: Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Great spotted Woodpecker, Reed Bunting and Grey Heron.

Quiet Weekend

Sunday  26th August 2012
Entertaining and being entertained was the order of the weekend, so not much birding. A Hobby at Fishers Mill was the best bird and the Beer Festival at the Wood Farm Brewery was the best entertainment. A good sixties band and good Ale, Now thats what I call entertainment! Birding will resume next week with a local Wryneck or Spotted Crake high on the agenda.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

2-1 to the Spot Flys

Wednesday 22nd August 2012
First Spot. Flies of the Autumn at the patch. 2 birds today: 1 in the bushes, another a bit further up the canal. Common Redstart could only manage 1 despite some skulking juvenile Robins trying to confuse the issue. An appreciative crowd of one witnessed events. Large number of Peacock butterflies on the wing today.
Spotted Flycatcher near Caldecote
Spotted Flycatcher, posing like an RBF
Spotted Flycatcher 2

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Much Ado....

Tuesday 21st August 2012
Those of you who were paying attention will have realised I was a da short yesterday, but whats a da among friends I say. Actually there isnt a single da in the Lennon/ Mc Cartney lyrics. Got mixed up with the Crystals hit. Didnt do alot today I'm afraid, just a quick look around a bit of the Coventry canal and the adjacent bushes near the Anchor pub. Just a single Redstart but several Common Whitethroat and a female Blackcap still around.

Monday 20 August 2012

All you need is Rain da, da- da da

Monday 20th August 2012
Typical aint it - weekend comes round, a chance to get out and do a bit of Birding and what happens: beautiful blue skies, fluffy white clouds and a gentle warm breeze. Monday comes and we're back to low cloud, poor visability, Mizzle, turning to heavy rain early morning. Lovely jubly. Its enough to make a passing migrant stop off in Warwickshire. So it was with a little optimism that the Caldecote area was visited this morning. The walk started well with 100 House Martins over the Caldecote Hall grounds The patch had changed in that a large Rape field that had been ploughed over during the weekend attracted 300 or so gulls, mainly Lesser Black Backs, a third of which were juveniles and 2 Yellow legged gulls. There was nothing else along the Anker flood plain though. As the rain got heavier it was back home for a change of clothes before venturing out to Alvecote - not a sausage in any of the pools or the Orchard. It was late afternoon before checking the rest of the Caldecote walk but it proved quite productive with no less than 4 Common Redstarts in the Hawthornes. Other birds on the walk included 3 juv Skylarks a Common Whitethroat and several Reed Buntings.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Sylvia Warblers of the Western Palearctic

Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus
Spectacled warbler, Cyprus
 Ruppell's Warbler, Cyprus
Menetries Warbler, Israel
Eastern Orphean Warbler, Turkey
 Common Whitethroat, UK
 Common Whitethroat, UK
Arabian Warbler, Israel
Lesser Whitethroat, Shetland Isles

Garden Warbler
Barred Warbler, Shetland Isles
Cyprus Warbler, Cyprus
Desert Warbler, Morocco
Cyprus Warbler, female, Cyprus
Dartford Warbler, UK
Sub alpine Warbler, Cyprus
Sub alpine Warbler, female, Cyprus
A few shots from here and there taken over the past few years,unfortunately not the complete set.
As far as Saturday's birding was concerned no migrants around Caldecote except for a few Hirundines and the odd Common Swift. At Alvecote pools a Greenshank was found on Teal pool,a single Little Egret on Mill pool and a rather vocal Female Common Redstart was in the hedge alongside the road.

Friday 17 August 2012

Real Birder meets Mrs Overall

Thursday 16th August 2012
Common Sandpiper, Blithfield Res. Staffs.
Common Sandpiper
Black Tern
When I say 'meets' I dont mean they actually met, its just a clever way of linking the two most memorable things in a days birding at Blithfield Res. - but first the birds. Scanning from the causeway car park a flock of terns could be seen at some distance. A least 4 adult Black terns and perhaps 20 juvs. There were also several juv. Common/ Arctic terns. An Osprey was seen briefly high over the woodland and at least 7 Common Sandpiper along the causeway. The lonely figure of a real Birder could also be seen. Seeking solitude from the casual 'tourist' birders like myself. The real birder, complete with weather battered baseball cap, up at the crack of dawn stubble and safari jacket scanned the shorelines in his endless quest to find birds. Good luck real birder, good on ya.
Having checked out Tad bay and Beech Tree point it was time for me to to move on. I needed some supplies and a cup of Tea, so ASDA at Tamworth was a convenient stopping off point. It was there I renewed my acquaintance with Mrs Overall. She had been 'promoted' to working on the till. OK I dont like queueing at any time but it is expected in Supermarkets and I wasn't in a particular hurry. Mrs Overall was doing her best but took an age to see to the 2 customers in front of me. I think the problem was a 5p which had got lost. The search involved the relocation of the till and well, enough was enough. I left the queue and left Mrs Overall to her search.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Dipping already

Sunday 12th August 2012
Yesterday started at the 'patch' - no sign of any Common Redstart but a Lesser Whitethroat was a new bird in the bushes. Further on Yellow wagtail, Linnet, Skylark, Reed Bunting and a Common Whitethroat were seen in the hedges and potato fields. When I got back to the car a message came in that a Whinchat had been seen at the farm at Middleton Lakes RSPB. Having not seen one this year and being almost half way there I decided to give it a shot. No sign, and to make matters worse I missed an Osprey flying over towards Dosthill while I was searching, so not a good day.
Gatekeeper, very common at the moment
 Nice to see a few more Butterflies about though. Nothing unusual but there was an Essex Skipper on the path to the hide at Coton earlier in the week.

Monday 6 August 2012

Back on the Patch

Common Redstart, nr Caldecote, North Warks. Had this recently fledged bird been bred locally?
Monday 6th August 2012
Theres nothing particularly unusual or paticularly interesting about 'the patch', just a few hawthorn bushes in a cow field with a canal not far away but every year it attracts a few migrants in spring and autumn. Nothing particularly amazing, YET, but enough to keep on the lookout on a fairly regular basis. Today I had 2 Common Redstarts; a female/juv. and a recently fledged juvenile.There was also a handful of Willow warblers, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Reed Buntings and a family of Robins in the bushes.
Common Redstart, juv
Common Redstart
Moving on to the Tame valley there were a few waders about. A total of 5 Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, and an adult Dunlin.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Pectoral Sandpiper at Marsh Lane N.R.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Marsh Lane N.R.(I've managed to capture plenty of habitat on this shot and show how well the bird blends in to the background).
Sunday 5th August 2012
The Olympics or a Black Redstart just up the road at Seckington? I chose the Olympics. As it happened one of my better decisions I think. There will be another Black Redstart but the experience of the Athletics in the Olympic arena live will never be repeated. Today I needed a break from the Olympics or at least the endless repeats and fortunately a Pectoral Sandpiper turned up at Marsh Lane N.R.
Pectoral Sandpiper

Saturday 4 August 2012

Great White Egret, Grimley,Worcs.

Saturday 4th August 2012
In a desparate attempt to revive my flagging West Mids year list I ventured into Worcestershire yesterday to try and add Great White Egret to the list. Sat.nav found Grimley quite easily but there was no sign of the bird or any other birders on the former gravel workings. Eventually I noticed a few birders in the distance over on the far side and decided to join them. The Great White was just visible through the 'scope in a tree, but at a considerable distance. The group decided we might get better views from the other side but by the time we all got there the bird had moved again. At least this time the bird was on the shoreline and clearly visible feeding in the shallow water.

Great White Egret, Grimley, Worcs.
Great White Egret
Great White Egret

Thursday 2 August 2012

Chinese Lanterns

Thursday 2nd July 2012

Last year I discussed the unsightly and dangerous proliferation of used Chinese Lanterns littering our countyside. There have now been a good number of documented records of animals suffering and or dying as a result of the lanterns. The RSPCA  have taken up the case and have organised a petition calling for these Lanterns to be banned.