Saturday 30 March 2013

Marsh Harrier at Brandon Marsh N.R.

Friday 29th March 2013
The chance of seeing a male Marsh Harrier at Brandon Marsh N.R. lured me away from the Tame valley. The bird had been seen quartering the Newlands reedbed early in the morning and there was no guarantee it would hang around but it was a risk worth taking. In the event it was nearly an hour before the bird appeared but at least it was there and showing well before going to ground again. The Bittern flew briefly during the next wait, so briefly that I missed it, but I was more than happy seeing the Marsh Harrier so well.
Marsh Harrier, Brandon Marsh N.R.
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Magical Merlin

Tuesday 26th March 2013
Spent most of the morning on the windswept plains around the village of Wishaw. There were a number of birds keeping low in the stubble trying to avoid the Arctic blast but bird of the day was undoubtedly a probable 1st winter male Merlin which fortunately flew up from the ground to seek shelter on a broken straw bale. The bird would have been almost impossible to see had it not flown up from the ground.
Ice Hedge
Jay, Kingsbury Water Park
Great spotted Woodpecker
Brown Rat
Reed Bunting, Garden
Reed Bunting, Garden
Other birds seen near Wishaw included; Little Egret, Yellowhammer, Fieldfare c200, C.Buzzard, Skylark, Chaffinch c60, Meadow pipit and Golden plover. At Cliff pool, Kingsbury Water Park there was a good deal of excitment around the feeding station as there was at home when a Reed Bunting appeared on the feeders, a very rare visitor to my garden.

Monday 25 March 2013

First LRP of the year.

Monday 25th March 2013
By eck it were cold out there today! but the dedication of the intrepid birder etc,etc. At Broomy croft Kingsbury it was necessary to pick up yards of tangled disgarded fishing line before doing any birding. Perhaps its not so surprising that at least one Canada goose hobbling round the car park has only got one foot. The Oystercatcher squadron, comprising 4 birds, were practicing their close formation flying routines, while at Cliff pool a single Little ringed Plover was seen in flight but could not be relocated on the ground. 6 Common Snipe also seen.  Moving on to Coton a Yellow legged Gull was present mid afternoon but nothing 'out of the ordinary' was seen at Shustoke, although it was quite a quick scan in the biting wind - I had a date with a hot cup of Tea.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Scaup and other Aythya ducks

Sunday 24th March 2013
There seems to be some debate about the identity of the drake Scaup currently wintering at Ladywalk N.R. I must admit I was 'happy with it' but then I was more concerned about getting a decent photo than checking the fine detail of the ID. The problem seems to be the extend of the black on the end of the bill. I've included some previously unseen photos of this and other Scaup seen mainly in the Tame valley over the past few years.
Scaup, March 2013
Scaup, March 2013
Scaup, March 2013
Tufted Duck
Scaup, March 2011
Scaup, March 2012
Scaup, March 2012
Lesser Scaup, Oct 2009
I'm not sure these images help in any way as many of them are quite distant, but the different angles do give a different impression of how much black is involved in the bill tip. 

Thursday 21 March 2013

Drake Scaup at Ladywalk N.R.

Thursday 21st May 2013
No sign of the waxwings in Nuneaton as I drove past this morning or on the return journey. I was heading for Ladywalk to start the days birding. Several other people had the same idea as I made my way round to the Riverwalk hide. Presumed newly arrived Chiffchaffs were singing away and several species were seen collecting nesting material
Wren, Ladywalk N.R. Warks.
A quick scan located the drake Scaup as well a Curlew and there was a total of 19 Goosander on the main pool. Raptors included 2 Sparrowhawks and a Peregrine.
The only other possible 'new' birds on my wanderings was a fly through Curlew at Cliff pool Kingsbury and a smallish flock of Meadow pipits at Wishaw.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Almost Daily Report

Tuesday 19th March 2013
Bird of the day was a Redshank at Alvecote Pools, followed by 2 singing Chiffchaff at Coton. Says it all really, migration is on hold. The Waxwings are still in Nuneaton favouring the Poplar behind the houses at the junction of Weddington Road and Castle Road when they are not coming down to feed.
Large flock of finches and Buntings, C200, mainly Chaffinch and Yellowhammers in fields behind Shustoke village and large flocks of Fieldfare still around at several locations. Little Egret, Siskin, Grey Wagtail, Nuthatch, C 100 Golden Plover and 3 Shelduck were also seen.

Monday 18 March 2013

Deja vu

Monday 18th March 2013
There comes a point when photographing Waxwings becomes pointless, up to that point you can strive for something different, the perfect image but if youve got good light, background etc you reach a point when you aint going to do any better. I know we may not get another influx for several years and as the birds are so local you've got to make the most of it, but I think that's it now. Time to try and find something different.
Waxwing, Nuneaton
Unfortunately though there's not a lot to find at the moment as winter clings on. All the usual sites along the Tame valley produced very little, although there was a Redshank at Shustoke Res. Water levels had risen again which didnt help but that didnt effect Kingfishers at this stage with 3 seen at different locations or Common Buzzards, probably 20 birds seen throughout the valley today.

Still around

Sunday 17th March 2013
Waxwing, Nuneaton, Warks.
A couple more shots of the Nuneaton Waxwings. I have to drive past them when I'm going to the Tame valley area so its difficult to ignore them if they're around.

Saturday 16 March 2013

More Local Waxwings

Saturday 16th March 2013
Sandwiched between a Dobbie's breakfast and some important Sporting events there was a little time to go and look for another group of local Waxwings. This time they were very local in the Weddington district of Nuneaton. There were 35 birds involved and although mobile kept returning to a tree in a garden next to the main road. Unfortunately the rain got increasingly heavy during the morning so it was a case of watching from the car. As the weather improved in the afternoon the Waxwings became less predictable.
Waxwing, Nuneaton, Warks.
Waxwing, part of the flock of 35

Friday 15 March 2013

Bits and pieces

A tale of stop - start birding this week with a couple of hours here or there. After a great morning at Draycote on Monday I only added Golden Plover to my County year list during the rest of the week. Failed to add Lesser spotted Woodpecker despite a couple of attempts and Im hoping to pick up other resident species such as Grey Partridge, Corn Bunting, Barn and Little Owl as I go along. We will see.
 Water Rail, Ladywalk
Water Rail
Water Rail
Golden Plover

Monday 11 March 2013

Black Redstart at Draycote Water

Monday 11th March 2013
Went over to Draycote Water on the chance that the Black Redstart had survived the night and was still present. It was, in pretty much the same place as yesterday near the overflow channel. A few regulars were already watching the bird as I approached but as I approached so did a large bank of dark cloud. It wasnt going to be too long before we would be hit by Blizzard like conditions. It was a question of grabbing a few photographs and running (I wish) for cover. The icey squalls didnt last too long and the bird stayed faithful to its patch, giving good views on the rocks. The strong wind made reservoir scanning difficult but it was possible to make out a 1w Glaucous Gull sitting out in the middle. One of very few large gulls on the water. The drake Smew did a fly past, which was nice and a Grey Wagtail was also seen on the waters edge near the overflow. As my joints began to complain about the cold it was time to get a cup of coffee and warm up a bit.
Black Redstart, Draycote Water, Warks.
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
Smew fly past
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
Glaucous Gull 1w
Glaucous Gull

Sunday 10 March 2013

Second chance

Sunday 10th March 2013
The bad weather over the past couple of days brought a bonus for vigilant birders, as a wave of Kittiwakes were forced inland. Some sort a resting place on our Midlands reservoirs with at least 4 birds putting down at Shustoke reservoir during the day. Despite an alert from Steve H. I was unable to get to Shustoke in the morning before they flew off. Luckily, and it doesnt happen very often in Birding, I got a second chance when 2 more Kittiwakes turned up 3 hours later.

Friday 8 March 2013

If you pay peanuts you get Pigeons

Friday 8th March 2013
Siskin next door
Its true, if you buy cheaper mixed birdseed it contains alot of wheat which many species discard and the Wood Pigeons hoover-up. Today there was a Siskin on my neighbour's feeders, it refused to come into my garden the reason was probably twofold. I have a very aggressive and possessive Robin in my garden but also my neighbours puts out Sunflower hearts. Apparently good birds dont come cheep!