Tuesday 28 June 2016

Local walks

27th, 28th June 2016

Yesterday had a stroll round Caldecote Hall pretty much same old but highlights were family party of Mistle thrush, 3 pairs of Yellow wagtails plus 2 juveniles, juvenile and adult Linnets several Common Whitethroats good numbers of House Martins outnumbering Swallows and a single Sand Martin.
Near the Anchor pub was a number of Bee Orchids, but that was about it for excitment. During the week a couple of visits to Bentley Woods had been also pretty birdless.
So with a song in my heart and a Spring in my step I set off optimistically to walk the River Anker circuit between  Woodford Lane and Mancetter. Millions of Damsel flies but little in the way of visible birdlife. I did hear a couple of Lesser Whitethroats but that was it I'm afaid. Can't even fall back on the nest boxes in the garden with no takers for the nest boxes this year. Too many Magpies. Role on the Autumn.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

The fishing match !

22nd June 2016

A quick report on the annual Fishing competition organised by Mike Brookes and friends at the Square Lane pool N.Warks. We met up for Breakfast at the Bull and Butcher, Corley before moving on to the pool. I had been invited to join them as 'helper' (and I had the badge to prove it) which involved helping in weighing the speciamen fish so they could be returned to the water as quickly as possible. The weather was good and after a slow start there was an exciting finish with several good fish being caught by the top contenders at the final whistle. With the top 3 anglers tied on the Carp weights it all came down to the net weights. After packing up everyone moved on to the The Griffin Inn at Shustoke, where, after some deliberation the winner of the 2016 Charles Brookes memorial trophy, John Butler, was announced. He narrowly beat John Young into second place. Dave O'Neil won the prize for the heaviest fish landed.


Mike, sticks with Plan A

Steve gets into a big Carp

Martin lands a decent Carp

A study  in technique; John Butler, left - intense, poised, like a coiled spring
                                                         John Young, right - relaxed, laid back, like asleep?

Common Tern

Apres match pint

Presentation time

JY enjoys a sip of Port

Friday 17 June 2016

Long tailed Duck, Alvecote pools

Friday 17th June 2016

Been a bit lazy since returning from N.Africa. No twitches and not much local birding either really. Perhaps not so surprising with the weather and not much bird activity. So it was great to get a 'heads up' ( is that how you say it?) from Steve H. that Roy had reported a Long tailed Duck on Mill pool Alvecote. Managed to take a few shots of of the unexpected summer visitor.

Long tailed Duck, female

Long tailed Duck

Long tailed Duck

Long tailed Duck

Monday 13 June 2016

Return to Marrakesh

The next day we took the long drive back to Marrakesh, We made a few stops on route the first of which was at a lighthouse at El Beddouza for a spot of Sea watching. We saw Gannet, Cory's Shearwater and Sandwhich terns. We moved on to the  Ile de Mogador. further along the coast. We watched the distant island from the popular beach in the bay. Popular with windsurfers in particular. For us the attraction of the area were the Eleonora's falcons which bred on the island in good numbers.
At another stop near a river bridge we had great views of Bee-eater and a Plain Martin and then it was on to Marrakesh. At our hotel in Marrakesh we enjoyed the pleasure of watching 3 species of Swift: Pallid, Alpine and Little from the balcony of our room. A good finish to an excellent tour organised by Birdfinders, My thanks go to all the members of our party for making the trip so enjoyable.


Kentish plover

Little Swift

Seebohm's Wheatear, female

Sunday 12 June 2016

Search for the Small Button-Quail, Part 2

June 2016

The second part of our trip to Morocco was focused on the Small ButtonQuail, formerly known as the Andalusian Hemipode, found in small pockets in the Western Palearctic region but rarely seen. The group was well briefed by our leader, Peter Lansdown, as to our tactics for the search which would involve selecting areas of suitable habitat along the coastal strip of cultivated fields an hour or so's drive from Oulidia. The idea was to space ourselves out around a suitable 'field' and listen. The Buttonquail has a very deep distinctive call, very different from the Common Quail which were calling all around us. We gave each area up to an hour, but on day 1 of the search, nothing was heard.We tried a number of fields. Several Quail 'got up' but it wasnt till late in the day that a smaller Quail was seen to fly low across the field and into cover. Not all the group saw the bird but the site would be a good starting point for tomorrow's search.
The next day began checking out some ponds near the hotel. There were a number of Duck species including Marbled, Red crested Pochard and Ferruginous.After our daily shop for provisions we continued our quest for the elusive Buttonquail, back 'on station' at the scene of the previous sighting. This time it wasnt too long before we heard the Buttoquail pretty much where it had been seen to fly to the previous day. By listening from different positions we were able to judge the position of the bird to within a couple of metres.We positioned ourselves so that if and when it flew we could all see it.The bird was calling regularly. We all stood patiently when it suddenly flew, giving good but all too brief views, the size and upper wing pattern were clearly visible. Yes, got it, there was a group sigh of relief and delight.
The rest of the day was spent exploring a series of lagoons separated from the sea by a long stretch of Sand dunes. There were small numbers of a variety of Waders and Terns as well as Flamingos and Spoonbill.

Black winged Stilt

Pallid Swift

Collared Pratincole

Spotless Starling

White Stork


Little Tern

Friday 10 June 2016

The Quest for the Small Button-Quail - June 2016

2nd - 7th June 2016

After a 2 hour delay, due to a French industrial dispute, our group of 6 finally took off for Marrakesh. The knock on effect of the delay was that our Mini bus was cancelled and arrangements had to be made to get a replacement.While this was done we watched House Buntings, Common Bulbuls and Morocco 'type' White Wagtails around the terminal buildings. We eventually headed North east to the town of Ifrane with its almost Alpine atmosphere in the Middle Atlas mountains. The next day saw us driving up the heavily wooded hills. Our first stop produced a good number of species straight away: Woodlark, Hawfinch,Short toed Treecreeper, Rock Bunting and Cirl Bunting but our main target bird the Atlas Flycatcher took a bit more effort but we were eventually rewarded with some excellent views. We moved on to a plateau in the hills where we saw Seebohm's Wheatear and Black Kite. A further stop produced Roller and Hoopoe. It was a long drive South to the resort of Oulidia where we were to spend the next 3 nights. The journey was broken though with birding stops and stops for refreshments. At one stop we saw a colony of Lesser Kestrels in some old farm buildings.

Lesser Kestrel

Lesser Kestrel

Atlas Flycatcher

Seebohm's Wheatear

Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove

Oualidia was to be our base for our search for the Small Button-quail.One of the most difficult birds to see in the Western palearctic region.