Saturday, 17 June 2017

Catch Up

The week in Scotland went well but we only managed to climb one Corbett near Aviemore named Meall a’ Bhuachaille as it destroyed my legs for the rest of the week. We saw in excess of 100 species in the week with Great White Egret the only rare bird. I saw Golden Eagle, Ring Ouzel, Black Grouse, Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl and I caught up with the common auks on a day out with Stuart Green.

At the summit of Meall a’ Bhuachaille

Meall a’ Bhuachaille
Great White Egret, Backwater Reservoir, Angus

Joy and I also spent a long weekend in Norfolk where it was rather quiet at an exciting time of year. Staying at Thornham we didn’t travel far birding most of the time at Titchwell and Holme where the best birds were Spoonbill, Turtle Dove and Nightjar.
Turtle Dove, Titchwell

Sedge Warbler, Titchwell

I have been over to Shustoke but there has been little around although locally there was a Corncrake at Alvecote and a Red-necked Phalarope at Middleton Lakes.

Joy and I had our first twitch of the year travelling down to Church Norton in Sussex for the Elegant Tern which we eventually saw.

Distant shot of Red-necked Phalarope, Middleton Lakes RSPB


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Wednesday 10 May

Off to Scotland tomorrow climbing and birding for a week, looking forward to it.



Monday, 8 May 2017

Monday 8th May

Dropped Joy off at work and headed to the Reservoir. It was the Big Bird Race at the weekend but due to circumstances I sat this one out. Maybe next year I will cover Shustoke but I will need a handicap.  Middleton RSPB won this year with a total number of species topping 100 which is pretty good going.

On arrival there were in excess of 1,000 mixed hirundines mainly Swallow and Sand Martin but there were still c.50 House Martin. There had also been an arrival of Swift with c.300 during the morning. There were also 14 Common Tern and six Gadwall as well as several broods of Mallard the chicks of which are making the Lesser Black-backed Gulls lazy as well as fat!

I was half way around when I picked up a Whimbrel it flew in from the west, had a look and continued on its way, I think it is my first for several years. Again, it was rather cold and there was very little singing. Warblers were represented by 4 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat and 4 Chiffchaff. I haven’t had sniff of anything else, there are usually at least one Lesser Whitethroat around.

Around the back of the fishing club I thought I could hear a distant Cuckoo, I stopped but could hear nothing I had just started to walk back when I heard it again. I headed under the railway towards the sheep paddocks and it got louder, then I picked it up in the top of an Oak singing away. I was pleased as I had failed to see one last year.

On the way back there were two pairs of Skylark, Mistle Thrush, Red-legged Partridge but not a lot else.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Wednesday 3rd May

It appears that parking charges have been introduced at the Reservoir, I wasn’t aware as the only machine is in the main car park. I always park by the entrance – Oh well!

There was a good north-easterly blowing today and the water was quite choppy. There were at least 34 Common Tern present at one point the all came together and circled the Reservoir, I thought they were going to depart but they settled down and carried on feeding.

The bird of the day was a Dunlin my first for at least two years, I doubt it stayed long after I left as two ladies past me with two dogs complete with ball throwing apparatus, still I enjoyed it. Two Shelduck flew past as I was changing my footwear but I didn't relocate them.

I was hoping to perform an assessment of singing birds but there was little activity, although there were two Whitethroat but they were difficult and staying low in the wind.

I had my first Grass Snake of the year, first Dragonfly and a few species of Butterfly including Brimstone.

I received an email from Paul Reay who early afternoon saw two Dunlin, a male goo sander and c.30 Swift.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Wednesday 26th April

Spent the morning at Shustoke where from the car park I could see there were c.30 Common Tern, there were c.600s hirundines with the majority Swallows, before I finished for the day I upped the estimate to closer to 1000.

I hadn’t walked far before I came across my first White Wagtail at Shustoke for a few years, bizarrely it was with a Meadow Pipit. I continued round but it was quiet with very few birds singing, but it was rather cold which was probably a contributing factor.

I decided to check out farmland on the other side of the railway and a recently ploughed field yielded two fine Wheatear and a Stoat came dancing along the road towards me apparently unaware of my presence before heading into the undergrowth.

I have a new site on the outskirts of Curdworth which looks promising it is the footpath that runs towards Water Orton through the old Sewage beds, it is very overgrown but is good for warblers and I would imagine it will be good in the Autumn. It is a large area, but unfortunately access is limited to the footpath so you are only going to see a fraction of what is available but so far I have heard/seen 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, 5 Chiffchaff, 8 Blackcap and 1 Garden Warbler. The best bird so far was a rather brief Cuckoo which disappeared from sight over the bank never to be seen again.

Yesterday in a brief visit to Wishaw I saw a further 2 Wheatear but was driven back by the rain.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Tuesday 25 April –A busy few weeks

Firstly, on a personal note, Joy and I have finally moved from our house in Shustoke, in a way I will miss it, but it was way too large for us. With the kids having both left home we really were rattling around. Also the garden was a full time job with nearly an acre of garden to look after. Whilst I can copeat the moment, in a few years time it may have been a different story.

I saw a total of 96 different species in our 15 years, with highlights being, in no particular order: Woodcock, Osprey, Goshawk, Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl, 3 Whinchat, 6 Stonechat, Wheatear not to mention breeding Spotted Flycatcher and annual Hobby.

Anyway back to birding, Shustoke (I still intend to cover it) has had nothing unusual, over the last month there have been steady passage of Sand Martin with, in recent weeks more and more Swallow and during the last few days a scattering of House Martin and yesterday a few Swift.

Warblers have been slow with Blackcap appearing at the beginning of April with several singing birds now present. Chiffchaff, an earlier arrival peaking at six singing birds. Whilst yesterday saw my first Whitethroat and Willow Warbler. Normally there would be several Common Sandpiper but the water levels are the highest I can ever remember with very little open shoreline to attract waders. A CS was reported over the weekend and I saw one yesterday on top of one of the green floats by the car park.

RSPB Middleton has been good and over the past month there have been good birds on offer with nearly 100 Black-tailed Godwit in the past week. There have been showy Grasshopper Warblers and a good showing generally of warblers. But the bird of the year so far for North Warwickshire was a male Green-winged Teal which I missed despite spending the morning on-site – I did have a Osprey over. When news broke I returned in the evening and eventually the bird showed quite well if distantly.

I used to bird down Castle Lane but as the years moved on it became a bit of a rat run and I never felt save walking along the lane. Now I have Wishaw on my doorstep with a network of paths and quiet lanes I am looking forward to exploring this site further. These fields are well known by birders, mainly for two species that appear to be no longer present or at best very difficult Corn Bunting and Grey Partridge.

On Sunday Joy and I walked along Blindpit Lane and saw both Whinchat and Wheatear.  I returned yesterday afternoon but there was no sign of the Whincat. I walked through the field towards the Cock Inn and in a vast field with stubble had seven Wheatear on it. There could have been any number as I only had my binoculars. There were 100s of mixed corvids and 40+ Stock Dove. I carried on walking to return via Hempit Lane, it was rather windy so I didn’t find any warblers but a Peregrine went over and as I got back to the main road there were a further 5 Wheatear and 3 Yellow Wagtail.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Monday 3rd April

After two Egyptian Geese on Sunday, this morning saw four fly through, they thought about landing but in the end headed off in a southerly direction.

Other good birds today included my first Oystercatcher of the year, again it flew through and my first Common Tern, which, you’ve guessed flew through.

Other species of note were eight singing Chiffchaff and two Blackcap as well as a Kingfisher on the river.

This evening saw a flock of c100 Sand Martin accompanied by a single Swallow.