Tuesday 30 October 2012

Slavonian Grebe, Shustoke Reservoir

Slavonian Grebe, Shustoke Res. Warks
30th Oct 2012
Spent a frustrating morning trying to sort out and collect prescriptions so it was heaven sent to get a message from Pete F at Shustoke that there was a Slavonian Grebe at Shustoke res. It was a beautiful morning so it would have been a crime to waste it and not do a bit of birding. At the car park it was out with the scope to locate the bird, close in on the far bank and then away with the scope and out with the camera to leg it round to the far side. The bird was very confiding and all the usual fears about it being flushed by untethered dogs or children were unwarranted. After filling ones boots it was off to Coton to see if the Scaup were still there. One was at least but didnt show well at all. A Lesser Redpoll did perform well in front of the hide though.
Slavonian Grebe

Slavonian Grebe
Lesser Redpoll, Coton lakes - nice to get images 'in the field'.
Lesser Redpoll
Lesser Redpoll

Sunday 28 October 2012

Winter birds move in

Good day Friday, joined SH at Hartshill Hayes viewpoint for a spot of Vis migging. He'd already had a several hundred Woodpigeons over and a good many Thrushes. We watched for 2 hours as more groups of Redwing and Fieldfare flew over.Well over 1000 birds passed over but the best for me was a male Goshawk, a long awaited first for Warwickshire. Being close to home I went back to warm up and have some lunch but it wasnt long before I was heading out again. This time to Shustoke Res.where SH had found a Red breasted Merganser. Who said there werent any birds in Warks.? Having said that I did pay a quick visit to Blithfield yesterday to see 2 Whooper Swans. They were very vocal in Blithe Bay just before they left at about noon.
Red breasted Merganser, Shustoke Res. Warks
Whooper Swan, Blithfield Res. Staffs
Whooper Swan
Whooper Swan

Thursday 25 October 2012

Visible migration

In a vain attempt to get with it I spent the morning vis migging, if thats the verb. Having failed miserably at finding aquatic species on reservoirs and putting off raking leaves off the back lawn I'd spend the morning seeing if I could see anything flying overhead. The ridge that runs from Nuneaton northwards past Atherstone,Grendon and Dordon offers a number of east facing vantage points. Merevale hill with Legion wood is relatively quiet and easy to access. I arrived at about 9.30am,visability was good despite a low cloud base with a fresh NE wind. Almost immediately a group of Fieldfare, my first of the winter, flew over. A steady flow of migrants mainly thushes continued to move over during the next 2 hours. Most flocks were 8-10 birds, the biggest flock(mainly Fieldfare) was 30. I struggled with the small stuff but there were certainly Chaffinch, Redpoll and Goldfinch passing. All birds seemed to be heading in the same SE direction except a flock of 19 Golden plovers, again my first of the winter, which flew East.The only other bird of note was a local Raven which 'enjoyed' a joust with Crows.
I was joined by SH who could put names to the LBJs passing over, which was nice. In a further attempt to 'get with it' Ive started to Tweet. The Doc says its an age thing so Ive got to learn to live with it. https://twitter.com/BobD85764876

Wednesday 24 October 2012

At least it didn't rain - much

Grey Wagtail, Draycote Water
Grey Wagtail
ok, recent posts have been a bit boring to say the least so why buck the trend? Today was nearly interesting, indeed very interesting if you like counting Tufted Ducks and Meadow pipits. I spent the morning at Draycote Water, indeed I spent the morning walking round the reservoir so if I didnt find any birds at least I got some much needed exercise out of it. Apart from Tufted duck, Coot and Meadow pipits I saw: 1 Pochard,1 Goldeneye and 2 Rock pipits and no Birders. Like I said, I got some exercise. To make it more of an outing I went for a coffee at the Golf range (very reasonable) and went back for more. You never know something might appear from the gloomy skies. It is October for goodness sake. It didnt appear, at least not until I was well on my way back to a commitment in the afternoon. A Brent goose turned up mid afternoon. Aint it the way?
Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit

Sunday 21 October 2012

Meadow pipits

Meadow pipit, Piccadily
Meadow Pipit
Well 2 to be exact. Poor return for an exhausting climb to the second highest point in Piccadilly- a small village near Kingsbury. Two Redwing flew over apologetically and about 8 Skylarks flew about a bit to make me feel the effort had been worth it but it hadnt. Polish lorry drivers were stirring from their vehicles on the industrial estate and disappearing into the Birches clutching wads of tissue but apart from noisy Green Woodpeckers nothing else stirred. I debated where to stop for a coffee and ended up at The Cedars cafe via Coton pools. It was shut.Good day having not I was.

Friday 19 October 2012

Yellow legged Gull at Brandon Marsh N.R.

Just a few rather distant shots of the Yellow legged Gull at Brandon Marsh Nature reserve today.
Yellow legged Gull, Brandon Marsh N.R., Warks.
Yellow legged Gull
Yellow legged Gull

Yellow legged Gull

Thursday 18 October 2012

Wellied up

Complete with wellies I spent the morning rambling over the open fields between Burton Hastings and the A5. Many of the huge fields were too waterlogged to work and were still stubble while in others the winter wheat had already germinated. With few hedges and only fragments of woodlands passerines were in short supply. I counted 23 Skylarks but there were probably considerably more in such a large area. Meadow pipits were around  in small numbers but no finches seen or heard. A few Reed Buntings were in the rough ground near the canal. A common Snipe got up from the waterlogged grassy fringes and a single Yellowhammer was seen but that was about it for the smaller species.
On the other hand Raptors and Corvids were very evident, seemingly 'enjoying' the breezy conditions: 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Raven, 2 Kestrel and a female Merlin all showed well. Nice to see these birds but where were the Lapwings and Finches?

Tuesday 16 October 2012

A day in the valley

With the wind gusting and with anything smaller than a sparrow keeping low in the vegetation a day checking out the Tame valley wetlands seemed like a plan. On the way I played 'Count the Jays' which could catch on as an alternative to I-Spy on car journeys. Starting off at Shustoke I worked my way north with stops at Coton, Kingsbury Water Park and Fisher's Mill. The wind blew the sun shone but no birds to note. So I'm reduced to Doggy stories. After a confrontation with a Rottweiller at Draycote yesterday I had another jumping up incident at Canal pool. Both dogs were on leads which was just as well or I might be decorating some path being squabbled over by an assortment of Corvids. Had I not displayed the speed and agility of an Olympic gymnast that may well have been the outcome. Funny part of today's incident was that the bloke on the other end of the lead remarked that it was alright because 'he was only a puppy'. Oh thats all right then ! The fact that 'the puppy' was the size of a small horse and beyond 'close control' even on a lead was irrelevant.I really do like dogs but only the intelligent, well behaved kind.
I nearly forgot, as I got back to the car at Broomey Croft I was amused by the antics of two other dog owners who had their dog on the end of one of those leads you can let out or bring in. Anyway the owner had not been paying attention and allowed the dog too much rope,quite literally as the dog had gone through a wire fence where two goats were grazing near the children's farm. As the owner tried to reel in his pet pooch the lead got more and more tangled in the fence but happily it was eventually sorted out with no stress to the animals involved. The things you see!

Monday 15 October 2012

Rock Pipits at Draycote Water

I hadn't been to Draycote Water for quite some time but with Rock pipits moving through the Midlands is was as good a place as any to look for them. It wasnt too difficult to locate the first couple half way along Farborough bank, particularly as the bulk of the Meadow pipit flock seemed prefer the grassy banks below the perimeter road. I counted 6 Rock pipits but another local observer had seen 9 birds in all. There was no sign of the long staying Common Scoter or the 1w Scaup but there were a couple of Goldeneye, several Jays and a couple of hundred Lapwing over the fields

Rock Pipit, one of six at Draycote Water
Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit

Thursday 11 October 2012

Quite Highs and not very lows

Ruddy Shelduck, Ladywalk N.R.
Been trying to find birds locally, in flood meadows, Caldecote and higher ground around the Merevale estate. Atherstone. Not hugely successful but decent flocks of Chaffinch in the stubble and small flocks of Lesser Redpoll, Goldfinch and Siskin around Legion Wood, Grendon.Yesterday's effort was interupted by a Spoonbill at Ladywalk which I attempted to go and see. Missed it by 5 mins apparently. A Ruddy Shelduck dropped in but apart from the build up of winter ducks it was the same as everywhere else - quiet. Had a bit of a purple patch today though, almost exciting in fact with 2 Peregrines, 2 Ravens and a few Common Buzzard in the air at the same time at Merevale. A Swallow was also seen over the wood. Groups of Skylarks got up from the stubble fields before dropping down and becoming invisible again. Impossible to estimate numbers. Also 3 small flocks of Redwing were seen in flight over the area.

Monday 8 October 2012

The Crab Plover- the Red Sea, Egypt

Crab Plover, Wadi Lahmi, Red sea
Absolutely dying to get back to some good, honest, old fashioned West Mids blogging after exploring the outer reaches of the Western P. but there aint alot to blog about. I fluked a Red Kite over Nuneaton and had the odd Peregrine sighting but thats it. Couple of Redwing here few Meadow pipits there, but its generally kinda quiet. I have been trying, very trying I hear you say, Local spots, Caldecote, Alvecote, Austry and Burton Hastings but as I said not much doing at the moment. So I'm reduced to dragging out the last few shots from Egypt but it does happen to be my favourite bird of the trip.
Crab plover with juvenile
Crab plover
Crab plover, not just crabs
Crab plover

Sunday 7 October 2012

Birding Egypt - In conclusion

Western Reef Heron
Our last day began with an early morning visit to a park near the hotel. Some of the group had seen Alexandrine Parakeets from the coach driving through the area but it would been good to get more prolonged views and compare with the smaller Rose ringed Parakeets.Those who had taken an early, early morning walk were rewarded with sightings of both species but the birds became elusive for the early morning group. Then a visit to the Cairo Museum before back to the airport for our return flight.
It had been a wonderful trip, hot and sometimes tedious on the necessary long journeys across the desert, but often exhilarating with so many new birds to appreciate. The whole trip had been well planned and well organised. Our leaders worked well as a team and gave us every chance of seeing the birds we wanted to see. Many thanks to Vaughan and Svetlana and to Abdulla for his tireless good humour and to my fellow birders who all (well nearly all) contributed to the success of the tour.
Images of the tour
Montague's Harrier
Greater Sandplover
Fiddler Crab
The Group
Great White Egret
Lizard sp
Have you heard the one about the Englishman the Frenchman and the Egyptian?
Birders at Dusk

Saturday 6 October 2012


Yoav Perlman has contacted me about 2 of my photographs which were incorrectly identified ( only two! ) The raptor which I labelled Steppe Buzzard is in fact a juvenile Honey Buzzard and the Great grey Shrike is a Southern Grey Shrike.

Birding Egypt - Abassa

Our final full days birding was a bit frustrating. We headed north from Cairo to Abassa where we walked round the cultivated fields and fish ponds looking for Senegal Coucal. We saw three species of Kingfisher, a Little Bittern, and a Streaked Weaver but no sign of the Coucal although a few of the group had the briefest of glimpses of what may have been that species. An extensive search which included sending some of the local lads into the densest cover came to no avail. We headed back to see the wonders of ancient Egypt in the form of the Pyramids and the Sphinx where we managed to get another puncture.The puncture proved no inconveience as a replacement coach turned up while we were having a very pleasant lunch in a walled garden and the obligatory visit to a perfume shop.We hadnt seen too many birds but at least we ended the day smelling nice!
White breasted Kingfisher, Abassa
Plain Tiger
Streaked Weaver
One of the Pyramids
The Sphinx

Friday 5 October 2012

Birding Eygpt, The last leg

Crested Tern, Suez
We flew back to Cairo for the last stage of our tour of Egypt. The traffic was still chaotic and it took us some time to reach our various birding sites. Our first destination was the Suez canal. We drove along close to the shoreline looking for birds. Our security guard and driver did a good job when we did come across a group of terns.As we stood on the side of the road scanning for terns they shielded us as lorries hurtled past with horns blaring. We also stopped at a partially built hotel complex when we saw some Terns on a rocky outcrop. The terns we were particularly looking for were Crested tern and there were several of them together with a number of Caspian terns.
Crested Tern
The group stopped at a Hotel for lunch which gave an opportunity to explore the gardens, but the only birds of interest were a juvenile Red backed Shrike,Steppe Buzzard and our only Sedge warbler of the trip.
Red backed Shrike, juv.
Honey Buzzard, juv.
On our way back to Cairo we made a couple of short stops for roadside birds including Mourning Wheatear and Southern grey Shrike.
 Mourning Wheatear
Southern grey Shrike
Southern grey Shrike