Thursday 23 April 2015

Tame valley Birding - mostly

Thursday 23rd April 2015

A few snaps from the Tame valley over the past couple of days. Finally caught up with Garden warbler and Whinchat in Warks.

Whinchat, Kingsbury

Chiffchaff, Coton

Whimbrel, Middleton Lakes


Tuesday 21 April 2015

Migrants in the Valleys

21st April 2015

Returned to Middleton Lakes to try and see the Warblers I had missed the previous day. I was partially successful with good views of Sedge and Reed warblers but again missed Garden warbler.
Sedge Warbler, Middleton Lakes

Sedge warbler

Grasshopper warblers were reeling in several areas of damp vegetation around the periphery of the reserve. Perhaps the bird of the day though was a Curlew Sandpier seen from the western screen.
Curlew Sandpiper
In the afternoon I walked around part of the flood valley of the River Anker near Caldecote Hall. The Sheep pastures and weed covered rough ground along this section of the river has often produced Whinchats in the past but none today. What I did see though was at least 9 Yellow Wagtails feeding amongst the Sheep.
Yellow Wagtail, Caldecote

Monday 20 April 2015

The search for Migrants

Monday 20th April 2015

The search for migrants continued today starting Shustoke Res. and continueing through Lea Marston, Bodymore Heath to Middleton Lakes where I caught up with Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Grasshopper warbler. According to Steve C. all the breeding warblers of the Tame valley had been seen over the day but Sedge, Cetti's, Reed and Garden had eluded me, as did the Whinchat. On the way home I did what is a regular walk at Mancetter near Atherstone just off the A5. The gentle hills often attract migrants and I was lucky to find a female Redstart, which rounded off the day quite nicely.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Black winged Stilts in Staffs.

Saturday 18th April 2015
After the disappointment of the previous couple of days Spirits were lifted with a stroll round the Caldecote walk and news of a couple of Black winged Stilts at Middleton Lakes RSPB. The local walk produced surprisingly little although Sand Martin was a new addition to the area list. House Martin was also seen. When I eventually arrived at Middleton the 2 Black winged Stilts showed well in the pleasant sunshine as did many friends and acquaintances. There was also a drake Garganey on the Fishers Mill pit in Warks.

Black winged Stilt, Middleton Lakes, Staffs.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Dipping near and far.

Saturday 18th April 2015
Rather lost track of my Blog worthy exploits over the last few days. My local migrant searches were interrupted by a day at Rutland Water where I successfully dipped an Alpine Swift but did see Whinchat, Wheatear and Redstart. I was then lured away to the Scillies where I successfully dipped the Great Blue Heron but did manage to see Wryneck and Hoopoe. This was my fourth Dip in a row having now missed out on American Herring Gull, Osprey, Alpine Swift and Great Blue Heron.Yesterday I was back on the local hills, A Whitehroat was heard briefly but that was about it. Hopefully my next post will be a little more cheerful, with reports of interesting migrants, illustrated with great photos, but I rather doubt it. I might get round to a more complete account of the Scillies trip when I'm in the right mood.

Monday 13 April 2015

Little Owl

Monday 13th April 2015
Managed to miss the Osprey at Brandon Marsh but saw my first House Martin of the year.

The Little Owl, Nr. Atherstone

Saturday 11 April 2015

Little Owl

11th April 2015
Can you spot the Little Owl in this tree? It should be a little clearer in the next post

Playing catchup

Monday 6th April 2015      Garganey,  Nuneaton
Tuesday 7th April               Blackcap,   Kingsbury

Wednesday 8th April          Little ringed Plover, Alvecote

Thursday 9th April     Little Gull, Kingsbury, Willow warbler, Coton +Fieldfare, Common Sandpiper

Friday 10th April                 Ring Ouzel,Yellow Wagtail, Napton

Friday 10 April 2015

Estonia 2015 - 2

A few bits and pieces from last weeks trip to Estonia with usual apologies for indifferent photography. It was the sounds as much as anything else, that I will also remember. The Booming Bitterns, the unearthly calls of Red necked Grebes, Cranes, Whooper Swans in flight, and Lekking Black Grouse.

Northern race Nuthatch

Northern race Long tailed Tit

A flight of Black Grouse

Spot the Red breasted Goose

White Stork - one of the first to arrive back

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Estonia - 2015

31st March - 5th April
I travel to Estonia in company with John Holtham on a tour organised by Birdfinders. We flew to Tallinn via Warsaw and then on to Parnu by Mini bus with our guide Tarvo Valker. After a much needed sleep at our hotel and an early breakfast we drove to the Soomesta forest for our first taste of Estonian birding. Although cloudy the rain held off as Tarvo led us along the first of many forest tracks we were to encounter over our stay. After a while Tarvo started to pick up various calls and the sounds of Woodpeckers drumming. He was able to identify various species but seeing them proved frustratingly difficult. Black Woodpeckers were the most numerous with 3 in the same tree at one stage. The real prize for me though was a White backed Woodpecker, my only 'tick' of the trip. In all we saw 4 species of Woodpecker with a further 2 heard at this site.

White backed Woodpecker
White backed Woodpecker
The next day we travelled to Saaremaa island to look for Steller's Eider. From the ferry we saw large numbers of Long tailed Ducks but the weather had deteriorated as we arrived on the island to search for the Eiders.
Long tailed Duck
We drew a blank at our first site but eventually found a raft with 20 or so Steller's Eiders, 2 of which were males some way off shore. At a viewing tower we witnessed an amazing migration of Chaffinches forced to fly low in the poor weather groups of up to 100 birds passed by one after the other. Nearly 1000 birds passed flying north in about 30 to 40 minutes. We drove back to our new base at the Roosta Holiday village. Very comfortable accommodation in individual chalets/cabins in the forest.
The next day we were up at the crack of dawn to go to Variku fields to watch a Black Grouse lek. In fact there seemed to be several leks going on in different parts of the huge open fields.We also saw Hen Harrier and a Rough legged Buzzard in the area.
A distant Rough legged Buzzard
We ate breakfast in the field as the early morning light got brighter before moving on to the Marimetsa forest to continue our quest for Hazelhen, Capercaille and Woodpeckers. We had no problem finding Capercaille but Hazelhen where much more difficult.



On our final full day's birding we visited some coastal locations, the sheer numbers of Geese and Swans in particular was amazing and with White tailed Eagles always in view it was spectacular birding. The most unexpected bird though was found at a roadside stop. We often stopped on the virtually traffic free roads to check out flocks of geese. On this occasion Tarvo picked out a Red breasted Goose among the White fronts and the Barnacle geese.
White tailed Eagle - through the steamed up window of a Mini bus.

Impressive numbers of Geese and Swans 
Despite the weather it was a successful tour, thanks to faultless organisation, the enthusiasm of our guide Tarvo and the good humour of my fellow Birders.

Little ringed Plover

Wednesday 8th April 2015
Having failed to connect with 2 Little Gulls at Kingsbury which, by the time I got to the Water Park were probably somwhere overhead in the Stratosphere with all the Black headed Gulls. There was also no sign of the Blackcap I saw yesterday along the canal. So I went further afield, but apart from another Swallow near Dordon saw very little until I happened upon a very confiding Little ringed Plover.
Little ringed Plover

Little ringed Plover

Little ringed Plover

Little ringed Plover

Monday 6 April 2015

Garganey at Seeswood pool, Nuneaton

Monday 6th April 2015

Lovely day in North Warks. after the early morning mist cleared, particularly enjoyable after a cold, damp week in Estonia. (report to follow). News of a pair of Garganey still at Seeswood pool, just up the road meant a quick breakfast. I managed a couple of photos before picking up Jan and going for a walk near Kingsbury Water park. We parked near the Dog and Doublet and almost immediately saw a single Swallow over the canal. The rest of the walk produced no 'new' birds but it was very pleasant walking in the warm sun.

Garganey, Seeswood pool