Saturday 30 December 2017

That was the year that was - 2017

Saturday 30th Dec.2017

Annual summary of Photographic Highlights of the year 2017

Bearded Tit, Warks

Grasshopper Warbler, Warks.

Grey Phalarope, Warks

Waxwing, Leics

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Tresco, Scillies

Lesser Yellowlegs, Warks.

Whinchat, Warks.

Hawfinch, Leics.

Buff bellied Pipit, Shetland Isles

Razorbill, Warks.

Parrot Crossbill, Shetland Isles

Sunday 24 December 2017

Staying local

Friday 22nd December 2017

Perseverance pays off ! I've been visiting a couple of local sites which seem to have potential for winter birds. Both came up trumps this week. A Firecrest was found at the Hartshill Sewage outfall together with the regular winter Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, Unfortunately the bird has proved extremely elusive with apparently only one other sighting.Other seen there though include Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Blackcap and Little Egret.         
 The other 'find' was a Merlin over fields of Winter Wheat between Warton village and the M42. The Falcon was being mobbed by a crow and gave an amazing exhibition of flying skills for a minute or so. Regular walks at Mancetter and Caldecote have been largely quiet.

Thursday 7 December 2017

Hawfinches mainly

Thursday 7th December 2017

The main focus of the past 2 weeks has been the continuing search for local Hawfinches with mixed success. A trip to Staines Reservoir with John H. for the 'American' Shore Lark was fruitless but there was some compensation in seeing 16 Parrot Crossbills at Camberley not far away.A trip to Draycote Res. produced Long tailed Duck, Shag and Oystercatcher but the Black necked Grebe couldn't be found.
     Highlight of the fortnight was finding a Hawfinch at Caldecote Hall but it hasn't been seen since. Other Hawfinchs have also been seen at Ansley and Berkswell. Also of note was witnessing the demise of a White Dove at Warton. I was hoping to see Merlin but watched distantly as a male Sparrowhawk plucked the still flapping dove. Gruesome stuff but there was only going to be one winner.

Hawfinch, Ansley

Hawfinch - dwarfing the Greenfinch next to it.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Hawfinch - Burbage, Leics.

21st November 2017

Managed to get decent views of a single Hawfinch feeding, although I did have to travel a few miles into Leicestershire to see it. To Burbage Common to be exact. The Hawfinch was feeding in a Maple tree.
Hawfinch, Burbage Common, Leics.




Sunday 19 November 2017

'That was the week that was'

Friday 17th November 2017

A week when things got back to normal even though Hawfinch mania was still in vogue. Desparate to see birds 'perched up' rather than just flyovers, not that I wasn't delighted to see flyovers at Hartshill, I've spent the week searching any local spot that looked promising but all to no avail. The highlights of my week have been 3 Stonechats at Caldecote and the dance of the 13 Pied Wagtails at Bentley Wood. The latter was an interesting spectacle. The birds jumped up from the ground in a field of Corn stubble usually about 4 feet, presumably after insects. It was more like the ritual dance of some bird of paradise. The first and probably only pair of Fieldfare in the garden apple tree was a good end to rather a disappointing week.

Thursday 2 November 2017

Warwickshire on a roll.

1st November 2017

As the events at Draycote became history, the new month began with something of a bang as far as Warwickshire Birders were concerned. How much more excitement could we take? Compensation some would say for the hours of searching in a very landlocked county for little reward.So when first a Dartford Warbler was found with Stonechats at a reserve between Coventry and Leamington and then a Lesser Yellowlegs was seen at a sensitive site near Maxstoke it was time for some celebration.
Although not up to the standards of the previous day Draycote did attempt something of a comeback with Long tailed Duck and Common Scoter the next day. Unfortunately not quite in the same league as Rutland Water with its Cory's Shearwater but than perhaps size does matter when it comes to Reservoirs.
Dartford warbler, Bubbenhall

Lesser Yellowlegs, Nr. Maxstoke

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Sunday 29 October 2017

Rare visitor to Draycote Water.

Sunday 29th October 2017

October birding has been unusually local for me this year following the annual trip to the Shetland Isles. Attention  focussed on the local hills and a rather special day at Draycote Water. Daily visits to the Mancetter Quarry hill had produced very little apart from an apparent increase in numbers of Woodpigeons, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits.
  However reports of local sightings of Hawfinches, a little further along the ridge at Hartshill Hayes caused a relocation. A different strategy was called for as it became apparent that a major eruption of Hawfinches was underway. The following days saw frequent 'vis. migging' sessions from the favoured vantage point on the edge of the Hayes, which gave great views to the east. Flocks of Thrushes and Finches, mainly Redwing and Chaffinch but also smaller numbers of Skylark, Siskin, Fieldfare with the odd Brambling and Meadow pipit picked out by Warks. Bird Obs. whose hearing and knowledge of bird calls is considerably better than mine. Sightings of incoming Hawfinches though did not occur until the 5th attempt when 5 birds were seen.
  News that a Razorbill was at Draycote water had me heading off a little further afield. The bird looked in good enough condition as it swam and dived around the fishing boats and pontoons but the half closed eyes suggested the bird was on its last legs.The bird was found dead the next day. The extremely rare visitor to the Midlands and the supporting cast of Grey Phalarope and Shag were well appreciated by the gathering of notable Birders from Warwickshire and the West Mids and at least a couple from the East Mids.

Razorbill, Draycote Water



Grey Phalarope

Friday 13 October 2017

Back on the'patch'

Friday 13th October

Both the Caldecote and Mancetter walks have been very quiet. I had a single Swallow on the Caldecote walk yesterday and a flock of 30 Goldfinches on the Mancetter walk. On the Webs count at Alvecote pools there was a Goldeneye as well as the 2 Cattle Egrets and 2 Stonechats.
I also visited Draycote Water where there was a Rock pipit, and 2 Goosander as well as the long staying Little Stint, Ruff, Ringed plover and Dunlin. Unfortunately I failed to connect with the Greenshank.
Little Stint with Dunlin, Draycote Water

Ruff, Draycote Water

Cattle Egret, Alvecote

Sunday 8 October 2017

The Shetland Isles - 2017

30th Sept - 7th October 2017

After a very long drive and a good flight we, (Pete and Joy Forbes and myself) arrived at Sumburgh on the southern tip of the Shetland Isles for a week's birding. I cannot recall the daily sequence of events but it involved a good deal of driving, courtesy Mr Julian Allen. Some exploration, a wide variety of weather conditions, mainly ranging from windy and wet to extremely windy and wet. I managed to get a couple of half decent photos when I remembered to take my camera with me.
It was also nice to see so many Shetland 'regulars' as well as the birds the islands attract from east and west.The week certainly started well with Common Crane, Wryneck and Great grey Shrike(2),Short toed Lark, a showy Rustic Bunting and a rather less obliging Pallas's Grasshopper warbler. A trip to Unst produced Red throated Pipit and our first Parrot Crossbills. On day 5 we finally caught up with one of several Little Buntings on the islands as well as the star bird for many, an American Buff-bellied Pipit.
American Buff bellied Pipit

Little Bunting

Parrot Crossbill, Lerwick

Short toed Lark

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Draycote Water

Wednesday 27th Sept. 2017

A few images from Draycote Water this week.


Little Stint

Little Stint


Thursday 21 September 2017

A week in the South West- Birds edition

Thursday 21st September 2017

Summary of an eventful couple of weeks celebrating Jan's 70th. It started with a family break at Exmouth/Topsham moved on to a week in the Scilly Isles, courtesy of Jan's sister Gill, and finished with a short stay with old friends in rural Somerset. The pace was leisurely and mainly relaxed. Birdwatching was minimal with little migration noted although it would have been rude not to have had a look at the Semi-palmated Sandpiper on St Mary's or noticed the previously un-noted Yellow browed warbler on Bryher.
Jan, the Birthday girl

70 ?  Nah


Portugese man of War, one of several on Porthloo beach

Semi palmated Sandpiper, Lower Moors

Semi-palmated Sandpiper


Apologies for the lack of 'family' images but I used my phone camera which I'm taking time to download.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Late August

The rest of August

Apart from a fruitless twitch to Portland. Birding has focussed on bits of habitat along the Anchor valley near home, searching for returning migrants. Whinchats have been plentiful particularly around the Caldecote Hall area, there was also a good passage of Yellow wagtails in the cattle fields near Mancetter quarry, Hartshill  peaking at some 30 birds. 3 Spotted Flycatchers were noted in canal side bushes near to the Anchor pub Hartshill. A day out at Draycote Water was disappointing not only because of the lack of birds but also because somebody drove into my car while it was parked up in the car park and cleared off. Nice people!

Another generation of Swallows
Black tail. Godwit, Draycote Water
Yellow wagtail
Yellow wagtail
Spotted Flycatcher
Red Kite, Garden
Turnstone, Draycote Water
Whinchat, Mancetter
Whinchat, Caldecote