Wednesday 27 January 2016

Tale of the lost Pork pie

Wednesday 27th January 2016

It's that time of the year for looking for a new angle on an old theme. At least that's my excuse for being a little flippant with my daily birding report. Actually the story of the missing Pork pie is downright silly.
 I often pop in to Morrisons on my way back from Draycote and/or Brandon Marsh for a coffee and to stock up on Kippers. Yesterday I managed to leave my waterproof decorating a chair in the Cafe but worse than that my proposed lunch, an individual hand crafted Pork pie was in one of the pockets. It was only when I got home that I realised the error of my ways. I phoned Morrisons and spoke to a rather nice lady called Michelle who went off immediately in search of the pie.After a short wait she returned with the news I'd been hoping for. The pie was safe still in the pocket of my coat. What a relief.
Clearly an earlyish visit to Morrisons next morning was the order of the day followed by a visit to Brandon Marsh where I saw my first returning Oystercatcher of the year.

Siskin, Brandon Marsh

Also had some close views of Siskin before moving on to Draycote Water. I was keen to see the 'regulars' I'd missed the previous day and fortunately it wasn't too long before they were in the bag and I was back to the car for lunch - Pork pie.

'Surfin' Smew, Draycote Water



Tuesday 26 January 2016

White fronted Geese at Draycote Water

Tuesday 26th January 2016

A couple of local walks over the weekend and a brief trip to Ladywalk. Ladywalk produced a small flock of Siskin and and a few Chiffchaffs while a walk along the river Anker from Woodford lane to Mancetter produced 4 Chiffchaffs, so not much to Blog about really. Today I took a drive to Draycote; a good place to be if you enjoy falling off your Windsurfing board at regular intervals in the blustry wind. Managed to miss seeing most of the regulars(birds) but the regular (birders) were more obvious in there Polar gear. No sign of the White fronted geese on my first mini search but luck was with me as I didn't have to wait too long before they flew in with Greylags and landed quite close.

White fronted Geese, Draycote Water

White fronted goose

4 of the 6 White fronted geese

White fronted goose

White fronted goose

Thursday 21 January 2016

Nondescript Birding

Thursday 21st January 2016

Another rather nondescript day's birding report to match the weather but at least there aren't any nondescript photos to go with it today. Did the Caldecote patchwalk. Very few small birds about at all. just a few Skylarks. Plenty of Corvids, a mixed flock of just over 200 Fieldfare and Redwing on the Hall meadow, several Grey Herons and several Buzzards loafing about. The most interesting birds were probably the pair of Stonechats which have been around for some time now and a single Snipe which is only the second one I can recall seeing on the walk. Back at home the female Blackcap is still coming to the garden feeder but the finches seem to have disappeared.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Plodding along slowly

Wednesday 20th January 2016

Back to basics today, with a short tour of N.Warks. Making the most of some decent weather but also trying
Little Owl

to pick up a few new species for the year.3 Jack Snipe, a Great Black Backed Gull near Alvecote and a Little Owl near Dordon was a good start but after that things slowed down a bit. There was a probable Siberian Chiffchaff along the riverside track near the car park at Ladywalk but nothing else of note except a fox on the far river bank near Bittern hide.

Probable Siberian Chiffchaff

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Penduline Tits in Gloucestershire

Tuesday 19th January 2016

Found myself heading South West via Stratford and Tewksbury to Gloucester. Eventually found the site in Barnwell where a couple  of male Penduline Tits had taken up residence.It was a short walk to the area of Bulrushes in a flood relief pool. There were about 30 birders spread along the fenced off track. After a 1/2 hour wait the birds came in to the closest rushes. They showed really well when they got up high in the rushes to feed. A good deal better views than my previous encounter in Kent many moons ago.

Penduline Tit, Gloucester

Penduline Tit

Penduline Tit

Penduline Tit

Penduline Tit

Penduline Tit

Penduline Tit

Sunday 17 January 2016

Lazy weekend

17th January 2016

Quiet weekend Birding wise for various reasons. Had a look round Alvecote but not a lot doing. At least one Stonechat is still on Mill pool though. Also had a short walk round Middleton Lakes - a couple of Lesser Redpoll on the feeders were new for the year but that was it. Good to see my first Blackcap arrive in the garden with the snow on Sunday also a couple of Long tailed Tits which are quite unusual in my garden.
Blackcap, garden, Nuneaton

Long tailed Tits, garden

Tuesday 12 January 2016

A day at Brandon Marsh

12th January 2016

Any day you see a Bittern is a good day, and today I saw 2, not much else but 2 Bitterns will do me. After a long wait in East Marsh hide I moved round to Carlton hide for a better view of the Newlands Reedbed. After about 20 minutes or so a Bittern  flew in and dropped just beyond the pool giving excellent flight views. After a further half hour it was joined by a second Bittern, flying in from the far side of the reedbed.
Bittern 1, Brandon Marsh

Bittern 1

Bittern 1

Bittern 1

Bittern 1

Bittern 2

Monday 11 January 2016

A day at Ladywalk Nature reserve

Monday 11th January 2016

Another day, another attempt at seeing a Warwickshire Bittern in the new year. Again Ladywalk was the venue.It was cold and as the minutes became hours and the hours became ...err, it got colder. Entertainment was limited. The backend of a Water Rail, a brief view of a Kingfisher, distant views of a Peregrine and a Raven and a glimpse of a Cetti's warbler. People left, people arrived, people left and came back. A good deal more action in the hide than in the Reedbed. I set myself a time limit which came and went. I scanned the edges of the reeds for the nth time. What's that? a pointy thing that wasn't there before. That was it, the top alf of a Bittern at last. Quite distant but a Bittern.
 And then Steve C. gets a call. 'Long eared Owl on post near the hide at Whitacre Heath'. 'Well blow me down' We decided to investigate and hurried round to Bittern hide where we could see across the river to Whitacre. True enough the Owl was sitting on a fence post but under closer scrutiny in the scope was clearly a Short eared Owl.
A rather distant Short eared Owl
Short eared Owl, honest

Saturday 9 January 2016

Stressless Birding

9th January 2016

An altogether more dignified day's birding yesterday, the only stress was not seeing any 'target' birds but that's part and parcel. Met up with Steve H. to check out a few N.Warks. sites. Picked up a few common species for the year but no B listers or even C listers for Warwickshire. The performing Great northern Diver paraded for the cameras at Shustoke and the Scaup was assigned to Aythya hybrid status,I think. Bird of the day was definitely a Peregrine which drifted low past B hide at Ladywalk.
Scaup hybrid
Scaup hybrid
Great northern Diver
Great northern Diver
Great northern Diver

Thursday 7 January 2016

Birding made difficult

Thursday 7th January 2016

'Losing it' is a frequently used expression.Today the expression came to mind as I wandered around the Coop car park in Atherstone. Earlier in the day I had made the decision to go for the Bittern at Ladywalk rather than the Common Scoter at Draycote. After a pile up on the M6 east bound traffic on the A5 was at a standstill but fortunately I was able to sail past mile after mile of static traffic to reach my destination. As I parked up in the car park at Ladywalk the heavens opened and it continued to rain heavily for the next hour or so. With a strong gusty wind as well it wasnt ideal Bittern watching weather or anything else come to that. After an early lunch in the car I moved on to Shustoke Res. The Great northern Diver was still there but rather more distant than yesterday. As the rain stopped I headed back. I needed a bit of  exercise so I stopped at Bentley for a woodland stroll.A Raven croncked overhead as I walked the various paths and then the first of 4 Woodcocks got up from close by the path. At least I'd got some reward for the day's efforts. I decided to celebrate by having a coffee and Mince pie at the Coop in Atherstone. In my excitement I managed to lock my only set of car keys in the Boot. Aghh!  What to do?The drivers door was still open so there's a simple answer if you have a hatchback. But logical thinking was in short supply as controlled panic set in. I started to phone anyone and everyone I thought might be able to give some advice Luckily I couldn't get a signal until I moved away from the car to get through to a breakdown company. As soon as I mentioned the type of car and the fact I could still get in the answer was simple. Even then I went for the tricky option of climbing over the front seats while still giving the RAC guy a running commentary. All in a day's birding.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

The New Year

4th January 2016

A very steady start to the year from a Birding point of view. No dash to Draycote on the way back from N Y Eve celebrations in Leamington just a quick stop on route to pick up Tawny Owl and then a stroll around some farmland near Polesworth which was productive if not spectacular. Couldn't resist ticking off the Draycote winterers but missed out on the Shag which would have been welcome. Also missed out on the Bittern and the Owls in the Tame valley. Best thing is that I managed to keep my wellies on and had good views of Peregrine falcons chasing Stock doves.

6th January 2016
Much better day in all respects: no rain, very little wind to speak of, and good vis once the early morning mist had cleared. Started at Coleshill Quarry no sign of any Owls but two pairs of Raven, a Perregrine and male Stonechat were seen. Got a message that there was a Great northern Diver at Shustoke Res. presumably the bird that had been at Whitacre pool. The Diver showed very well with a 1w drake Scaup out from the Sailing Club.

 Great northern Diver, Shustoke Res.

Great northern Diver

Great northern Diver

Great northern Diver
Back at the Quarry there was again little activity for some time until a kind soul pointed out the Barn Owl in its favoured tree. A Short eared Owl then put in an all too brief appearance flying from one of the banks surrounding the area.