Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone has had a good Xmas, ours has been quiet but enjoyable. The last one as a complete family as my eldest is moving out in the New Year, so it was quiet sad for my wife, I on the other hand will be doing cartwheels!

Anyway after a stunning Xmas lunch we walked to and round the Reservoir, it was remarkably quiet, people and bird wise. Around a dozen Goosander came into roost and there were counts of 26 Pochard, 1 Gadwall, 2 Wigeon, c.60 Mallard, c.70 Tufted Duck. Passerines were noticeable by there absence although there were several Meadow Pipit on the damp meadow at the west end.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sunday 8th December

Finally, I found the time to get over the Reservoir not once but twice. After a day out birding with the Captain in Lancashire – Baikal Teal – where we met some of the Tame Valley’s finest, today it was my regular haunts.

First thing I had a wander around, unfortunately it coincided with the speed boat going out and the wildfowl departing. At first it was really slow but it became apparent that there were a lot of Redwings around. In the trees and fields adjacent to the railway line behind the small pool there were Redpoll, Siskin, Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbirds. Feeding on the edge of the recently ploughed field were a group of a dozen or so Yellowhammer and over 30 Stock Dove.

The small pool held c.70 Pochard, c.120 Tufted and 2 Gadwall. One of the surprises was that there were only five Great Crested Grebe, whilst numbers peak in late summer I don’t think I have ever counted less than 40 birds in the past!

Later in the day I paid a return trip and saw the same with the addition of Sparrowhawk, c.100 Lapwing flying overhead and a singing Mistle Thrush, I know it was a good day but singing!


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Last Weekend

Haven’t been over the Reservoir recently (recurring theme). But last weekend Joy and I decided to have the Friday off work, travel to Norfolk and enjoy an overnight stay in Hunstanton. Up at 6am bit of breakfast a couple of coffee’s, Joy walked the dog and I loaded the car, during the process I had a Woodcock fly over the house, while a Tawny Owl was calling in the distance.

We were on the road for 7.30am – never again! It took us nearly three and a half hour to get there, instead of the usual two hours. We eventually arrived in the Country Park at Holt at just after 11am and were onto a group of four Parrot Crossbills immediately. We watched them for half an hour before they all departed further into the wood.

We then parked at Cley and did a circuit around the reserve. We walked along the east bank seeing a small party of Twite. There was a cold north-easterly wind blowing and sea watching was done in brief stints as we made our way west sheltered by the shingle bank. On the sea we had a Pom Skua, a few Common Scoter and a Black-throated Diver. There were still a few Gannet passing off-shore but any sustained views resulted in brain freeze!

There were a good selection of birds on view most of which were expected, but just before we reached the coast road, I heard a commotion behind me, I turned to see a Long-eared Owl, which I assume had just come in off the sea being mobbed by a couple of Crows, it crossed the road and immediately dived into a thick hedge in the garden of the nearest house (Hillside). I put my scope up and scanned but it was well hidden.

After a bit of lunch we retuned to Holt but the Crossbills weren’t showing, so we dropped in at Holkham were there were thousands of Geese but again it was cold. Next, we dropped in at Stiffkey just as a squall hit, I managed to get a little shelter in the hut, but the wind direction ensured that I still got soaked. Anyway I saw a ringtail Hen Harrier fly past nearly nabbing a Redshank in the process. As dusk approached I parked up on the approach road to Holme NNT reserve climbed the bank and scanned, seeing both Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl just before dark. We then when to the hotel we had booked for the night in Hunstanton which was good and excellent value – £70 b&b!

The next morning after breakfast which was difficult to concentrate on as hundreds of birds were flying past making there way in and out of The Wash we went straight to Titchwell. We had a good morning there with a couple of Water Rail, Red-necked Grebe, Water Pipit, Spotted Redshank, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier and numerous other birds. I then drove along the coast to Sherringham where I eventually picked up Purple Sandpiper amongst a multitude of Turnstone. We then dropped in at Salthouse were we saw a few Red-throated Divers on the sea but little else.

We returned to Holt where we had much better views of the Parrot Crossbill as they fed in a Larch near the road. The light however was very poor and I struggled to get any photographs. At 2.30pm we decided that we would head home but not before we stopped to look through a flock of Swans near Whittlesea – 120 Whooper, 20 Mute and two Bewick Swan which brought an end to the weekends birding.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sunday 17th November

On Thursday I got a phone call from the Captain, the lucky bleeder is off to Botswana at five days notice (a friend cancelled). He came round to mine to borrow my spare camera battery, he was expecting me to be happy for him (sadly mistaken), my only solace was that he had that many injections at the Doctors his arm was like a second-hand Dart board!

I had been decorating and gardening now none stop for nearly a month. Shustoke has been as dead as a nit and I am getting fed up already at the dark nights – just five months to go!  Then on Friday news broke of a Orphean Warbler in South Wales about three miles from where the Captain and I had gone a month ago for an Issy Wheatear. I knew it was a long drive and to be honest didn’t fancy it much.

My darling wife – Joy took pity on me. On Saturday, after painting my second door and rushing to find time to watch the Rugby,  Joy say’s “lets go, I have never been there – and you said it was nice.” I don’t need asking twice! Anyway, first thing Sunday we are off. We get 20 miles down the motorway and its closed! Someone was threatening to jump of a Motorway bridge. I was fuming, he’d tried to jump off yesterday, don’t these people sleep! 24 hours!!!! They could have put a mattress under the lane he was above and left the other bloody lanes open!

Great Start!!!!!

We eventually got back on the M5 after a bloody long detour eventually arriving in Marloes/St Brides, Pembrokeshire at about 11.15 we found the birders car park easily. I was confident that the bird would still be present, it had been dull overnight and I never dip in Wales, it will happen one day, but not yet. Plus more importantly Captain Daylate wasn’t with me!

We walked about half a mile to the nice looking house which had a garden birders dream of. We only waited five minutes before the bird appeared. It performed for a while before disappearing only to reappear in the apple trees in front of us. I must say that I didn’t think the bird loooked that big, but is hard to be objective. I’m no expert but if I had to guess I thought it looked more like Eastern Orphean Warbler, it seemed greyer to me. I also could not pick up white in the outer tail feathers but it did appear on some of the photographs I have seen. It did have a stonking bill on it though.

After viewing the bird for an hour we headed off to Dale Airfield, I had met a local birder who gave me directions. We got there and made our way along the runway where a Snow Bunting was performing really well. From there we headed across a grassy area between the runways and put up around four Lapland Bunting. This was the first time in a few years that I have seen this species and I really enjoyed it, not only that I managed to photograph the bird.

So just after 3pm we headed home, fortunately the Motorway was open! He must have dropped-off!!!

Western Orphean Warbler? St Brides, Pembrokeshire

Snow Bunting, Dale Airport, Pembrokeshire

Lapland Bunting, Dale Airport, Pembrokeshire

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Monday 11th November

Took a break from decorating when the heavy rain of the morning stopped. The reservoir was very quiet and I walked around both pools plus the marshy field on the other side of the railway but it was very quiet. I did see my first big flock of Fieldfare of the winter with around 50 birds.

Wildfowl numbers were pathetic with only around a dozen Pochard of note. When I got back to the car park Steve Haynes was on site and he had seen little either. Whilst we were talking a wader was picked up flying along the reserve, it turned out to be a Dunlin – still the best bird in a while.

This morning while lying in bed sipping my coffee, the bird feeders outside the window held only the usual until I picked up two Treecreepers working their way up and down the Silver Birch’s.

I have been over recently but it hasn’t been worth posting. On a personal note I have added four year ticks in the last week. Last Saturday I saw Dusky Warbler at Marsh Lane and five Jack Snipe locally. Then last Sunday we walked the Malvern Ridge again and saw three Crossbills near the Malvern Hotel and on the way home we stopped off near Evesham to see the Glossy Ibis that was present.


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Wednesday 30th October

We were up early this morning and on-site at just at 7.00am, unfortunately a car pulled up with two yapping dogs at 7.01am and followed us round with his dogs barking the whole time – so much for a bit of piece and quiet. In fact the only quiet thing was the birds, apart from several Shoveler and 20 odd Pochard there was very little on-site. The Red-crested Pochard looks well gone!

We got home for 8.00am and I walked the dog to the top of the field and back seeing an impressive 28 species. Highlights were double figures of Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Treecreeper, Fieldfare, Redwing and a small flock of 20 odd Lapwing!


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Out of it

Been a frustrating week so far, on the weekend Joy and I walked the Malvern Ridge, a fantastic walk which turns up some good birds now and again. As you heard in the news there was a bit of a blow on, so birds were at a bit of a premium. Lots of Redwing and even more Fieldfare.

On Sunday not content with Saturdays walk the wife dragged me to Cannock Chase for a yomp! During the course of which we didn’t see Great Grey Shrike. We did however, have good views of Brambling and poor views of Crossbill.

Shustoke wise I popped over Monday morning feeling strangely cheated that we hadn’t felt the full force of the Storm! There was hardly a wave of the surface of the Res when I got there. I had a quick scan from the car park and there was very little.

However, J Harris reported a Red-crested Pochard on the small pool although there was no sign today.


Sunday, 27 October 2013

Sunday 27 October

There was a Little Gull briefly this morning (S Roper). I have been too busy to get over this weekend but it looks like the fun might start early next week as this storm comes through. It might be little late in the autumn for good numbers of birds, but I am hopeful that something will come of it.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Monday 21 October

I had two visits today, one in the morning and one mid afternoon.

In the morning it was pouring down but feeling intrepid I headed out, I had gone about 300 yards when what looked like a Bunting flew up about 60 yards in front of me, I got very little on it. About the only thing I can be certain of was that it wasn’t a male Reed Bunting or Snow Bunting. It appeared rather nondescript and plain faced and appeared rather compact. But other than that I haven’t a clue. By the time I had uncovered my bins and got it in view it was above my eyeline and flew off south gaining height steadily. I last saw it high over the sailing club and it kept going until I lost it, or to be more precise, until my bins were completely soaking wet. On the off chance I went back to the car park and searched the south shore just in case but drew a blank.

Later in the day when the rain relented I when back over with the Captain. Again it was quiet but there is a bit of a build up in the wildfowl department with around ten Shoveler, 28 Pochard and the first three Goosander of the Autumn. There are a few Redwing around at the moment but I haven’t come across many Fieldfare as yet.


Monday, 21 October 2013

Sunday 20th October

Haven’t been able to get over much but the Whooper Swan were seen on Thursday early on! Also Steve Haynes had a fly over Greenshank at the weekend.

Unfortunately I have lost my phone, and hence all my contacts. I would appreciate it if you can email me your numbers or conversely text them to me on my new phone.


Monday, 14 October 2013

Monday 14th October

After a long day at work I eventually got over the reservoir at just after 6pm, more for the exercise than the birding! There were a lot of gull in the roost a lot of the “bigs” and I picked out an obvious adult Yellow-legged Gull amongst the numerous Herring and Lessers.

I carried on round noticing that there were several Swans, there have only been around a maximum of four Mute Swan recently so I thought I might be in with a chance given the winds and the rain over the last couple of days. When I got closer I checked them out in the fading light, to my surprise the last two were both Whooper Swan. I hadn’t taken my phone, because it got soaked the other day and by the time I got home it was dark, so apologies to anyone who feels gripped off!

Apparently, there have also been three Rock Pipit seen today, plus Dave Hutton got some good shots of the Tern and it was an Arctic Tern. So I will amend my notes from yesterday then! Thanks Dave.


Sunday, 13 October 2013

Sunday 13th October

With very poor weather Joy and I made two trips over today, seeing very little due to the weather. The Rock Pipit was reported but I drew a blank with it twice! There was a Tern on the jetty at the sailing club which look like Common to me when I saw it flying around on my second visit.

There were four hirundines (Steve Haynes) but were too distant to be specifically identified.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Son of Sam and Saturday at Shustoke

I took Joy away to Cornwall for a few days birding and getting away from it all. Or at least that’s what I thought. We travelled down on Wednesday morning stopping at the Hayle Estuary. From the car park an Osprey was soaring over the estuary we were pleased – the local gulls weren’t! We walked down the very busy road were the Black-winged Stilt was performing really well. On the other side of the road there were lots of wildfowl mainly Wigeon and there were two Med Gulls amongst the hundreds of other gulls.

Black-winged Stilt, Hayle Estuary, Cornwall
From there we went straight to Pendeen to see what was passing. We had two Arctic Skua’s a few of both Manx and Balearic Shearwaters, 30 odd Common Scoter, 1000’s of Auk were passing as well as good numbers of Kittiwakes and Gannets.

We then when in search of the Wryneck that was present but didn’t connect. There was a Yellow-browed Warbler just down the road near St Just so we had search for that but the wind was so strong it was difficult to pick out the movement of Wood Pigeons! We soon had enough of that and headed back to Pendeen where we continued our seawatching. We were lucky to see a Sooty Shearwater and another Arctic Skua, but there was not as much passing as earlier, so we decided to try for the Wryneck again. As we were making our way back to the car we met Tom Perrin and Julian Allen from the Tame Valley. We walked along the coastal path to see a Snow Bunting then it was back for the Wryneck search.

Snow Bunting, Pendeen, Cornwall

As we were staking out the Wryneck I though that maybe it might be better to search out of the wind. There we were joined by another birder from Solihull who follows this blog, (never did ask his name). As we were chatting a passerine flicked up and immediately dived for cover, I didn’t get it in my bins but it looked like a very large warbler, but I thought there was a good chance it was the Wryneck and was seething I hadn’t had a better look, back at the b&b Joy dropped into the conversation that she had been impressed with the Wryneck. Puzzled I said what do you mean. I got a good look at it through my bins! she says. Now we have been married 34 years (yes, I married young) and she hasn’t learned that:

A: If you see a good bird, shout out and get me on it; or

B: If you see a good bird and don’t shout out, don’t tell me later, take the secret to your grave!!!!

Anyway, after a pleasant meal at the Dolphin Inn in Penzance, who should walk in but Julian and Tom, we finished our meal and joined them. I treated myself to a nice single malt Laphroig then spent the next ten minutes talking whisky.

The next morning we headed to Pendeen and as we approached I realised I was following Julians car! After 30 minutes sea watching was proving fruitless and with an approaching squall coming in we said our goodbyes and headed to the car, we had no soon sat down when the heavens opened. The wind was very strong, so we decided that we would travel up the coast to Zenor to search for Turtle Dove, we had a look around the village church but drew a blank. The Julian and Tom turned up! We eventually located the Turtle Dove, a rare bird nowadays.

We then headed for the Cot Valley and spend the rest of the day staking out another Yellow-browed which didn’t show. As we were there, a passing car, stopped wound down his window and asked what we were looking for. I though I recognise that face, Ian Kendal, who worked at RSPB Sandwell Valley back in the day. It was the first time in around 10 years that I had seen him. The rest of the day proved fruitless.

Friday morning saw us return to Pendeen, were we met “Ian Kendal”! He was birding the fields so we left him to do a little sea watching, as we pulled up two Peregrines were hanging in the wind just above the car giving superb views. There were still a few Balearic Shearwaters and another couple of Arctic Skua but the wind was not quite right and very strong so we called it a day. We spend the rest of the morning in one of the Valleys near St Just’s were we had a few Chiffchaff, Blackcap and a Merlin.

We stopped briefly at Hayle see four Med Gull then we headed home.

Med Gull, Hayle Estuary, Cornwall

On Saturday I was dragged out shopping even though conditions were perfect for Shustoke – ie it was tipping down with rain, so it would be quiet! I eventually received a text about a couple of Rock Pipit. I got over and who should be there but Tom Perrin! I saw the Rock Pipit but a passing boat tacked in the wind and the sails cracked and the bird flew off! But at least I had seen it. There was a Common Tern and Arctic Tern plus a Ringed Plover seen, but I missed all those but as it tipped down and I headed home. There were a couple of Pochard and a Shoveler but I saw little else in the rain.

Rock Pipit, Shustoke Reservoir

Monday, 7 October 2013

5 October

I have been over the Reservoir a couple of times but there has been very little to write about. There was a Gt Black-backed Gull in the roost as well as a dozen or more Common Gull. But I failed to see the Med Gull Steve Haynes saw earlier in the week.

On Saturday, I went twitching with the Captain an activity that usually ends in tears, my success rate with him is poor to say the least. Bad luck doesn’t come into it. Anyway, I felt a bit sorry for him, his wife has broken her ankle and he has had a knee operation so they are both on crutches.

I picked him up early on Saturday morning (minus Parrot and eye-patch) and we headed down to the Gower for an Isabelline Wheatear which had been present most of the week. It looked promising it was dull, always a good sign so after four hours we were within two miles when my wife, who had internet access phoned to say the bird was still there! I was hardly going to turn around. To cut a long story short we saw the bird and had a good couple of hours birding in what was a very impressive site. There was visibly migration going on with over a hundred Swallows passing over. There was a constant stream of Meadow Pipits and Larks overhead, obviously Isabelline Wheatear, several Northern Wheatear, 3 Blackcap, Chough, Raven, Peregrine, although we missed a Wryneck we left happy.


Isabelline Wheatear, St Martin’s, Pembrokeshire

Monday, 30 September 2013

Monday 30th September

I had the day of work today, my attempts to move to four days a week failed last week and I ended up working six! I wasn’t going to fall for that again so I took the day off! I had been over a couple of times but there has been very little around. Today was no exception. Around 100 Lapwing, Sparrowhawk and Kingfisher were the highlights. There were a few Shoveller and Gadwall on the main lake but little else.

Steve Cawthray had Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper last week and Steve Haynes a Med Gull which I might go and have a look for this evening.

Looking on the bright side “Winter is Coming”.


Monday, 23 September 2013

Monday 23rd September

Like I thought Scotland was a wash out, we only lasted two days as a family emergency necessitated out return after only two days!

I have been really busy so haven”t managed to get over at all, however, today there was a male Common Scoter (A Dean, S Haynes). In my hedgerow today was a female Blackcap and a pair of Raven were cronking away on the Pylon.


Friday, 13 September 2013

Friday 13th September

Unlucky for some (Friday 13th) but I walked the dog up the field this morning and found a male Redstart in the hedgerow. My 95th species for the garden, I count the hedgerow to make walking the dog a bit more exciting.

I am off to Scotland for a few days to visit my mother and try and get some hills in, although the weather forecast is not promising. I will try or drown trying.


Monday, 9 September 2013

Monday 9th September

It is official I am now stepping down to four day week! Well we will see how long that lasts for, at least it started well, although God only knows how I would have fitted all the jobs I had too do in, with an extra day of weekend.

I had a walk around today, I reasoned that the Reservoir would be quiet with the rain that was falling. I was right for a change although there were few birds. I made the mistake of going round the back of the fishing pool, now that is what I call an overgrown path. I am glad I had a thick coat on. It was the tunnel of death with five foot high nettles converging to meet in the middle. I might not have got stung, but I was soaked by the time I had fought my way to the other end!

The most interesting thing I saw today was a Hornet, (I’m glad I didn’t meet it on the aformentioned path there would have been no where to run. I did see a few warblers today with Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff all seen. There were very good numbers of hirundines with estimates of 250 House Martin, 150 Swallow and 100 Sand Martin.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

Saturday Morning 7th September

Had a walk around early, it was a fine morning but with the sun low in the sky viewing was difficult. The Terns from yesterday had gone and there was little of note apart from a male RD off the car park. We walked the whole way round and pleasant as it was there was little to get excited about.

Back at the car park I had a final scan, then all the gulls went up as an impressive immature female Peregrine flew over low, it didn’t appear interested in the snacks on offer beneath it and it sailed on past.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Friday 6th September

I have been over four times during the week and have seen very little. The rain this morning had me wishing I was out birding rather than at work. I did get over briefly at lunchtime and there were a lot of hirundines, plus around four Common Tern, although I had a text later from Steve Haynes that he had seen seven.

This evening had Joy and I walking around the Reservoir again this time there appeared to be two Common Tern and two Black Tern. There were also several Shoveler flying in late on and a Kingfisher.

The bushes between the two pool held a lot of passerines but it would have taken Clark Kent’s x-ray vision to id anything!


Monday, 2 September 2013

Monday 2nd September

Spent an hours this evening, lots of gulls about 1500 BH Gulls, 15 Herring Gull, 50 LBB Gull. Two Yellow Wagtail were present and two Common Sandpiper. Five Swallow and a Sand Martin passed through but on the whole it was rather quiet.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Thursday 29th August

Last night the Captain and I did a bit of gardening, the ‘Zone Birders’ should notice the difference, none of your light trim for us, it was a number 1 all over! Certainly the view down towards the east end is a lot clearer than it was. We paid the price for it though, with nettles a plenty and the mossies my arms and legs looked like a budgies sandpaper.

We actually managed a bit of birding afterwards but there was little around, less hirundines than of late, about the same amount of wildfowl ie Shoveler, Wigeon and Gadwall. A small skein of seven Greylag flew over and apart from a single Common Sandpiper that was about it.

I think we might have a go at the other armpit next week, anyway tomorrow its off to Norfolk for me!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

On a roll!

Tuesday 27th August

Had a walk around, nothing unexpected a late Swift was the pick. One Common Sandpiper was the only wader apart from Lapwing. A Kingfisher flew across the Reservoir and there were still good numbers of hirundines feeding just above the tree tops in the Sailing Club car park. If nothing else at least it was a good bit of exercise.

Wednesday 28th August

Took a walk with the Captain, this time we actually saw a few passerines, which have been scarce on the ground recently. The Water Treatment Works held numerous Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, a party of Long-tailed Tits and various other common birds. The highlight tonight was the number of gulls with a near adult Yellow-legged Gull.

I had commented recently that in previous years at the end of August that there are usually good numbers of wildfowl attracted to the Reservoir. Well tonight three Shoveler flew in and there were also four Gadwall and around six Wigeon. The Lapwing seemed to have peaked at around 50 bird and tonight they were joined by two Common Sandpiper. Hirundines tonight mainly consisted of Swallow were as in recent days they have been mainly Sand Martin. And lastly we saw a Yellow Wagtail which flew down the length of the Reservoir but wasn’t relocated.

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Bank Holiday Weekend

Firstly, I have been over a couple of times, but have not seen much as it happens. A Hobby on Sunday morning perhaps the best. Steve Haynes on the other hand seems to have the knack of picking his arrivals to coincide with the birds, a skill I have lacked this year!

He has seen a couple of Black Tern, Yellow Wagtail, Swift and a fly-over Greenshank not bad considering how busy the reservoir has been.

I may give the Captain a quick ring and have another look tonight, I will keep you posted.

I have had up to a dozen Mistle Thrushes feeding on berries in the garden today the highest number I have ever seen.


Sunday, 25 August 2013

FInally!

I have had a busy time recently with work and trying to get the garden sorted for the autumn, plus I have been decorating, so birding unfortunately has taken a back seat.

Marcus the dog has been unwell (13.5yrs) and is struggling and has a balance problem, not alcohol related but it look similar.

Anyway, for the first time in weeks I visited the Reservoir (Saturday night) and there really seemed to be a complete lack of birds, I have picked up threads on other blogs that there is a dearth of bird numbers around, and compared to other late Augusts at the Reservoir I have to agree.

However, saying that I had a site tick last night, I had seen very little as we walked around, two Golden Plover flew over low, I followed them and they flew west to the other end but they didn’t land and were last seen heading in the general direction of Ladywalk. They were never very high and I was surprised that they didn’t land, unless they were resting with the Lapwing before we arrived and had just taken off when I picked them up.

Hopefully I will get over a bit more in the coming weeks. I have got another climbing week coming up in Scotland (just 16 left!).


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Breakfast – Hell on Toast

For the third time in the last fortnight, I have been up early and checked out the reservoir. And for the third time running I haven’t got more than a couple of hundred yards. It is busier at 7.00am than it is at 7.00pm, unfortunately at that time in the morning it is just one big dog exercise site (I cleaned that up).

I was up at 6.30am and after a cup of coffee I was up and out. I had got about 200 yards and was watching a Common Sandpiper feeding on the edge when a dog and it owner came through the gate. The dog started barking and charged towards me. I was in no danger I am used to dogs (I have one) but the numpty with the dog thought it was rather funny, so with the Common Sand heading down the other end of the reservoir I decided to just call it a day.

I appreciate, everyone has a right to fresh air and a bit of space, but so do I! On the way back to the car a further six people with dogs turned up – not one on a lead.

I know most people don’t take Shustoke seriously as a place to watch birds, but with the pressures on the site now all the time, I may be joining them! At the very least, Severn Trent need to provide more bins for dog waste, there are piles of bags just lying around near the bins as they are all full. And I doubt if more than 50% of the people actually clean up after their dogs anyway!

Rant over, back to work!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Monday 12th August

Yesterday I had a text from TP to say Steve Cawthray had seen a Black-tailed Godwit, I managed to get over and see the bird as it was just off the car park and I was pushed for time that suited both of us.

Later there was 4 Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Yellow-Legged Gull (4th Win) (S Cawthray, J Allen et al). I saw three Common Sandpiper on Saturday morning but not much else.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Friday 9th August

After a trip last night to Middleton Lakes where I missed the Gt White Egret, I thought about going this evening, but I thought no, it had its chance, its not going to tick me!

I went around the reservoir this morning but there was little on offer. Note to self: don’t walk around the small pool in shorts again – too many nettles! There were a couple of Blackcap to help with the pain but nothing else.

This evening Joy and I went over meeting Steve Haynes and Steve Cawthray in “The Zone” they had seen Hobby and a couple of Kingfishers. We decided to carry on round, exercise if nothing else, it proved to be worth it with a Green Sandpiper, my first on-site this year.

Might be the start of something good!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Wednesday 7th August

I have actually been over a fair bit recently, but there hasn’t really been anything of note. Post-breeding Lapwing numbers are at around 40 birds at the moment and there has been a rise in the numbers of Coot but that has been it!

There was a male RD on Tuesday evening but that appears to have moved on and even the numbers of Common Tern have dropped to around half a dozen.


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Tuesday 30th July

There were a couple of Dunlin present along with Common Sandpiper (Steve Haynes). I went over in the evening but didn’t see them. There were upwards of 20 Common Tern but on a pleasant evening it was rather quiet, to be expected at this time of year. Things should start to hot up a little bird wise and I am looking forward to getting a bit of birding in rather than climbing.


Monday, 29 July 2013

Skye Saturday

Went to the Sligachan Hotel for a meal last night and I was so tired that I could hardly eat. I was in bed for 9.30pm but as I started to dropped off I began to cramp up! I eventually got to sleep only to be woken by a Tawny Owl calling on the roof of the cottage!

SATURDAY

It was another early start as we had to vacate the cottage we had been in all week. We met Tony at 6.30am and we were on our way. We headed up the west slopes of Sgurr Dearg to the imposing ‘In Pin’ a blade of rock that looks stuck onto the side of the hill. We had to descend down scree slopes to the base of the ‘In Pin’ to begin our climb. Tony explain what to do, that was the easy bit. Anyway we were roped up and I was bringing up the rear.

Fortunately there were plenty of holds which was reassuring until we reached a very difficult move which a lack of holds there was a small ledge for a foot hold and a hand hold which involved a tremendous leap of faith. Anyway it was over in seconds and after a short climb we reached the first pitch (a ledge where you could stand up and more importantly hold on). Tony then told us that the most difficult bit was over, this was a easier angle. I remember his instructions “Concentrate on the rock, don’t look down, and don’t go left or right, there is no left or right. We then proceeded to climb a two foot wide ridge with a 3,000ft drop on either side! It was completely exhilarating. There then followed a 20 metre abseil off the west side of the ‘In Pin’. We all got down without any difficulty! Tony shocked us out of our elated state by pointing along the ridge and saying “You have got to walk all the way along there and then the fourth Munro is hidden from view – so you better get your heads round it!” Its the most I have ever paid for a bollocking!

It took us an hour to get to our next Munro – Sgurr na Banachdich, The third Munro of the day Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh looked miles away, with a big drop in height and the added complication of an intermediate top in between and that looked steep! There was some serious exposed climbing involved with a hairy walk along the crest to the summit cairn. We were all knackered and the heat was taking its toll, Tony was brilliant, “You’ve not done it yet lads, concentrate” he was right we were thinking it was done but it was far from over. The descent took us to the col of An Dorus (The Door) where a path crossed the ridge. However, this involved climbing to get us down and climbing to get us back up to the slopes of the last Munro we needed to climb on Skye – Sgurr a Mhadaidh. We reached the summit with a real sense of achievement and I started to get a little emotional, it had been a tough ask, and I am not getting any younger, or thinner for that matter. The descent was not as steep as yesterday’s but by the time we got back to the car I was cream crackered. I had climbed 13 Munro’s in eight days and it felt like it.

On the bird front I had added only four species to my year list, Golden Eagle, Rock Dove, Whimbrel and Greenshank.

The second week, no one felt like walking, so we had a rest and I played a few rounds of golf. I was well choked when I found out there had been a Rock Thrush not too far away!
The ‘In Pin’ conquered

The summit of Sgurr na Banachdich

Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh from Sgurr na Banachdich

The 11th and final Cullin Munro

Sgurr a Mhadaich the last one

Skye Friday

After Tuesdays walk conditions deteriorated to the point that the guide (Tony) was unwilling to take us onto the hills due mainly to the strong winds. However, with time running out we had to condense four days walking into two.

FRIDAY
We were up at 4.45am – parked up and ready to walk in Glen Brittle at 6.00am. After the poor weather it was a relief that yesterday afternoon it had brightened up considerably. There was hardly a cloud in the sky when we started and it was obvious that it was going to be hot. Fortunately on the walk in to Coir’ a Ghunndia we were shaded by the towering mountains that we were walking towards. As we gained height the views were simply stunning with the clouds inverting the sea covered in cloud whilst the islands of Rhum and Eig poking out through the cloud.

We soon reached the loch at about 2,500ft in this the most magical of corries. We then headed east to reach the ridge leading to Sgurr na Eag we reached the summit to be greeted with superb views. We retraced our steps picking up our haversacks before continuing along the ridge. Leaving them again for the climb to Sgurr Dubh Mor. We were harnessed up with helmets on as there was a fair bit of simple climbing and a lot of scrambling to reach the summit.
Sgurr Dubh Mor from Sgurr nan Eag

The view looking south-east from the summit of Sgurr nan Eag
As we were making our way back towards the haversacks a Raven flew past us carrying a sandwich! On returning to the bags they had opened the zip on Joys bag and removed all her sandwiches, two packets of crisps and a Mars bar! They had been in Karen’s bag and had all of her medical supplies were spread all over. Tony was telling us he had had clients that have lost wallets, cheque books, designer sunglasses etc. Apparently it is a real problem, due to the nature of the ridge and the retracing of the route to reach the outliers, they just wait for you to disappear and in they go!

The heat was tremendous by now, and not being the slimmest I was struggling a little. I had already drunk two litres of water. On the way to the highest of the Cullin summits Sgurr Alasdair there was a natural spring so we filled our bottles up and continued. So far the day had been relatively easy but the next two babies were in a different league. We traversed under the south ridge of Sgurr Alasdair, then with Tony leading we climbed very steep slopes towards the summit, clinging on like limpets. As we reached the crest we had about 100 yards to cover to the cairn, it was narrow, very narrow. On reaching the cairn we sat down for safety reasons. It was like the five of us were sitting on my dining room table with a 3000ft drop on either side. We all took a look at Sgurr Mhic Choinnich and didn’t fancy it at all! We dropped down to the col and then climbed up over an intermediate top before dropping steeply to the base of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich making our way along Collie’s Ledge a path in the cliff face about a foot wide in places which is the only way to access ‘The Mhic’ without climb up the cliff. We then faced another climb to the summit which again was very airy. The ridge continued but we dropped down the An Stac screes to return to Glen Brittle. However filling our eyeline on the way down was Sgurr Dearg and the Inaccessible Pinnacle which for most hill walkers is their Nemisis!
The four of us perched on the “Dining Room Table” on top of Sgurr Alasdair

That is the way we came up!

Sgurr Mhic Chonnich that was airy as well

Sgurr Dearg and the ‘In Pin’


Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Skye Week

SUNDAY

After climbing yesterday, I felt like a rest. Unfortunately Colin, Karen and Joy had to climb Blaven a Skye Munro and the only one not part of the Cullin Ridge. I had climbed this years ago and didn’t particularly feel the need to climb it again. With no Sky TV I couldn’t watch the cricket but I could pick up the radio through the tv so I settled down and listened to the Ashes unfold. There were Spotted Flycatcher in the garden and Common Sandpiper by the Sligachan Hotel. The weather had deteriorated and there was steady drizzle most of the day – whilst the rest of the UK was having a Heatwave.


MONDAY

We had hired a guide for the week – these hills are serious! We had arranged to meet Tony Hanly at 9.00am by the Sligachan Hotel. We were up early, with nerves jangling and were at the car park early waiting for Tony to arrive. He turned up, introduced himself and declared that we wouldn’t be walking as it was too windy and the rock would be wet with the rain! We were all a little disappointed but he was the expert. It was rather an anti-climax. They weather wasn’t much better for birding but we picked up Golden Eagle, Whimbrel, Twite and a few bits and pieces in a leisurely drive around the west coast of the island.

TUESDAY
Met Tony at the same time and place. The winds had dropped to gusts of 35mph so it was borderline but we would go for it. We walked from the Hotel with the targets the three northernly Munros of Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Basteir and Bruach na Frithe. On the way a Greenshank was seen whilst it chased off a Hooded Crow.

We walked up into Fionn Choire from where we accessed the west ridge of Sgurr nan Gillian. We put on our harnesses and helmets and started to make our way towards the summit. The wind was very strong and you had to shout to be heard. As we ran out of path we were roped up, then Tony disappeared about 70ft up this Chimney and we had to follow. I was to busy concentrating on where I was putting my hands and feet to be worried, we eventually reached the ridge and it was exposed – I mean EXPOSED.

The next part involved edging our way around some large boulders and climbing up through a crack to another ledge, then another short climb to regain the ridge. When my turn came I just did it, but I remember thinking I hope the whole week isn’t like this. As we got towards the top we had to thread the needle – this was a hole in the rock to access the summit. We were lucky as we reached the top it cleared a little and we got some good views. On the descent we avoided the difficulties on the way up by abseiling 90ft down the side of a cliff, a strange and remarkably fulfilling experience and not as difficult as you might think.

Next up was Am Basteir this involved some climbing classed as difficult. We were however soon on the summit. As we approached the wind was still strong. Tony said “When you get up there and sit down – there’s not much of it so don’t spread out”. We didn’t stay long and returned to the col to pick up our haversacks and then traversing back underneath Am Basteir where we took the leisurely walk out to the summit of Bruach na Frithe the only one of the Cullins eleven Munro’s that doesn’t involve any real level of difficulty.

Sgurr nan Gillean

Am Basteir

The chimney we had to climb up with Tony “The Rock Rat” Hanly at the top.

The west ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean. The eye of the needle is just right off centre

The summit of Sgurr nan Gillean

13th July – Scotland

Travelled to Perth on Friday after work for a week climbing the Skye Munro’s. These mountains are the real thing they are Alpine in nature and for us mere hill walkers a Guide was called for, doing the hills individually is possible but to string them together involves a lot of climbing and rope work – something I would not be comfortable with.

However, before that on the Saturday we decided that we would walk two rather remote hills at the far end of Glen Shiel which is on the way to Skye – Beinn Fhada and A' Ghlas-bheinn. We arrived at 9.30am and started the walk in bright sunlight and we were rewarded with fine weather all day. It took over three hours to reach the summit of Beinn Fhada which was a straightforward climb on good paths.

To reach A’ Ghlas-bheinn involved losing a lot of height returning to the bealach which left us with a big climb to get to the summit, we thought we had made it about four times but it seemed to be getting further away rather than closer! It took us 2h 30m before we reached the cairn. The views though were incredible down Glen Affric and we could see all the six Munro’s that we had left to climb there. Bird wise on the hill we heard Golden Plover and saw loads of Meadow Pipits and Wheatear.

The summit of Beinn Fhada

A’ Ghlas-bheinn from the slopes of Beinn Fhada

The distant Beinn Fhada from the summit of A’ Ghlas-bheinn

At the summit of A’ Ghlas-bheinn

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Saturday 6th July

Popped in briefly on Saturday morning, there were around a dozen or so Common Tern but not a lot else, a juvenile Grey Wagtail was feeding on the shoreline by the car park. The Spotted Flycatchers in my garden appear to have had a successfully bred. The adults are busy feeding the youngsters at the moment.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Scotland at Last

Had another trip to Scotland to fit in a few hills. Of the three walks we had targeted we settled on the hardest as the weather later in the week looked to be getting poorer.

So on Monday we traveled to Spean Bridge parking at Corriechoille to walk the Grey Corries plus a couple of outliers – four Munro’s in total. The first target hill was Stob Ban we got through the first gate to be confronted by an unusual sight the “Wee Minister” a lifelike carving made out of wood. I would imagine on a dreek, foggy day it might look otherworldy.

The “Wee Minister”

It took about an hour and a half on the track to reach to Lairig Leacach Bothy from there we headed up the east ridge to the top of Stob Ban a very shapely peak, a fine mountain in its own right, but completely dwarfed by the Grey Corries which it lies behind. The descent from here was short but steep down scree slopes to the bealach to Stob Choire Claurigh the first of the Grey Corries.

Stob Ban from Stob Choire Claurigh


It was a good pull up to the top of Stob Choire Claurigh and the views from the top were expansive especially along the ridge to Stob Coire an Laoigh there were three tops inbetween but the drop between them was minimal and although it took nearly an hour and a half to get to the other end it was enjoyable.



Stob Choire Claurigh from Stob Ban

Looking along the Grey Corries Ridge

It was a good pull up to the top of Stob Choire Claurigh and the views from the top were expansive especially along the ridge to Stob Coire an Laoigh there were three tops inbetween but the drop between them was minimal and although it took nearly an hour and a half to get to the other end it was enjoyable.



The ridge without me in the way with Stob Coire an Laoigh at the end.



As we arrived at the cairn on top of the days third Munro Stob Coire an Laoigh we met our first people of the day, believe it or not they were from Burton-on-Trent! At this point the last hill of the day was in sight and it look a good way away and steep. However, I had no intention of returning so after a quick bite to eat Joy and I headed along the rest of the ridge and descended down a rocky nose of the top Stob Corrie Easain and climbed steeply up Sgurr Choinnich Mor the fourth of the day. It was probable the best hill of the day, but it didn’t feel like it! 

After a couple of photographs we had to retrace our steps over Stob Coire Easian to descend using the hills north ridge this seemed to go on for miles we eventually dropped down east to a gorge and cross the river, then having to climb our of the gorge to find the path which led to a abandoned tramline which took us back to the car. We arrived back at 8.30pm eleven hours after we started. It had been a fulfilling day, but more importantly one of our hardest remaining walks was in the bag. Needing a couple of days to recover it became apparent that the weather was going to worsen, that coupled with a phone call from work to say they were a couple of people short ended the trip. I am glad we chose this one first, I now won’t have sleepless nights about it.


Sgurr Choinnich Mor from Stob Coire Easain

Monday, 17 June 2013

Sunday 16th June

I have spent a bit of time at Shustoke recently but there has been very little around. I took a walk around on Sunday and there were still around eight Common Tern but little else on the Reservoir itself although there were 48 Great Crested Grebe.

The highlight was a Cuckoo which was my first for the year for Shustoke. The Spotted Flycatchers in the garden are breeding which I am delighted about, at least I have a good reason for gardening now.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Thursday 6 June

Not Shustoke Reservoir this time but on Tuesday evening Joy and I did something we don’t often do! We sat in the garden and enjoyed it, rather than work in it. I was on my second coffee when with my naked eye I picked up a bird flitting around in the big oak tree. My first instinct was that it was Spotted Flycatcher so I rushed inside to fetch my binoculars, loh and behold it wasn’t one but two. They were also carrying nesting material. Those of you who read the blog might remember that last year in June I found a dead Spotted Flycatcher in the garden, that got me thinking at the time “have I missed them”.

Well it might well be that I have. Anyway I am highly chuffed.


Spotted Flycatcher in the garden.



Monday, 3 June 2013

Birmingham City Centre

I did my annual trip with the Captain to Birmingham City Centre, not shopping but looking for Black Redstart, apparently they haven’t been doing to well. We searched a couple of the traditional sites that I used to check out 20 years ago for the WMBC and the Black Redstart Survey. We were lucky we had two birds, one at each site. There was quite a few species on offer we had a pair of Mistle Thrush feeding young at St Paul’s Square and unusually a Stock Dove!

On the way back I checked out the Reservoir and there were the usual dozen or so Common Tern but not much else.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Wednesday 29th May

With heavy rain falling for most of the day I though I would spend an hour at the Reservoir. I got over about 5.30pm and had the place to myself. Fortunately, no people, no dogs but unfortunately no birds!

There were around eleven Common Tern feeding I assume these are birds that breed at Marsh Lane as I see them commuting over my house heading in that general direction. There is still something exciting from seeing what is essentially a seabird flying over the garden. The only other bird of note was a singing Skylark over Bixhill Lane.


Saturday, 25 May 2013

A weeks Hillwalking and birding

Well third time lucky, with one aborted trip and another abandoned we finally managed a week in Scotland. Travelled up a week last Thursday and the next morning we travelled across Scotland from Perth to Oban to catch the 10am ferry, I had underestimated how long it would take and we were nearly 90 minutes early. Oban harbour held several Black Guillemot on the ferry over I picked up a bird miles away it looked like White-tailed Eagle, but it was just too far away to count.

Me, Joy, Karen and Colin awaiting the Ferry at Oban

Ben More on Mull
We arrived at the foot of Ben More (Mull’s only Munro), it was busy with several cars present. I picked up a year tick by the car with a couple of Twite. Considering it was the first hill of the year we were sitting at the cairn in around two hours, but not before I had another year tick – a fine female Snow Bunting. Didn’t do a fat lot on Saturday but on Sunday Joy and I walked about eight miles down Glen Quaich, we saw Whinchat, Black Grouse and Red Grouse. We went back to my mothers in Perth when I received a text from my birding mate in Scotland Stuart Green, to inform me that he had found a  Scarlet Rosefinch and Red-backed Shrike just north of Arbroath, he didn’t know I was in Scotland!

Joy and I headed off but by the time we arrived it was cold and dull and there was little activity. Mind you between Perth and Auchmithie the Albion went from 5-2 down to United to 5-5 so it was hard to be disappointed. Whilst there I met a local birder Mark Cant who said the Rosefinch was very mobile, we called it a day!

On Monday we were up early to travel to Loch Mullordoch which is west of Cannich – I had arranged for a boat to take us the length of the Loch so we could climb the Glen’s four Munro’s. The seven miles it saved made it do-able in a day. As we were dropped off I had a pair of Black-throated Diver. It was a fair clump up to the top of the day’s first Munro An Socach accompanied by thick cloud. Fortunately because this was a fairly narrow ridge for most of the way there was a good path. We saw a few Ptarmigan near the summit but bird wise that was all that we had. An Riabhachan was next and this took nearly an hour and a half, as the ridge twisted one way then another. It was a big decent and an even bigger rise the to the next hill Sgurr na Lapaich, by this time the wind had picked up and the temperature dropped considerably, I was also starting to feel the pace – this was turning into a big day! On the decent from Sgurr na Lapaich the visibility was poor with the angle of decent alarming, our decent was halted by a snow field, we could not see where it went, the only sign being footprints – heading down! Colin and I used our walking poles and gingerly decended, with Joy and Karen behind, I heard a cry and turning round saw Joy sliding down the slope on her backside followed by Karen. Fortunately, the managed to stop themselves, I thought they were getting a bit cocky, until they informed us they had slipped and not done it on purpose.

Being dropped off by the boat at Loch Mullordoch
The cairn of An Socach 

One of the other four Munro’s that day, the views were the same from them all.
We kept losing height and for the first time it started to clear a little and we could see what was in front of us – the day’s last Munro Carn nan Gobhar, I wish it had stayed hidden as it looked a big climb, as it happened it wasn’t that bad, we were soon on the top and heading down the south-east ridge back to the loch and the car – all in all it took us eleven hours.

The next day I fancied a days birding in Angus, Joy and I arrived at Auchmithie and I was rumbling around in the boot when Joy shouted to me “What’s That” I looked up to see a stunning male Scarlet Rosefinch, no sooner had I got it in my bins it was off, and we never saw it again. We had a good day although we didn’t see any significant birds apart from a Marsh Harrier at Montrose Basin. I did meet Simon the man responsible for the RSPB’s Scottish Reserves at Ethie Mains whilst we were searching for Red-backed Shrike, I had met him last year at Ethie Mains whilst looking for – you guessed it Red-backed Shrike.

Beinn Bhrotain from Monadh Mor

The summmit of Monadh Mor
With the weather forecast going down hill we decided to hill walk again on Wednesday in the Cairngorms. Joy and I needed to two to complete that area and Colin and Karen one hill. Fortunately both hills started at the same point so we travelled up together. They headed north to Beinn Mheadhoin whilst Joy and I went west to Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor. What should have been a straightforward day got off to a bad start when we lost the path and lost a bit of time. We got to the outlying top of Carn Cloich-mhullinn and headed north-west to Beinn Bhrotain. It was then that I realised I had made a mistake, I had taken a larger more detailed map, but due tothe gale force winds I couldn’t open it, we could hardly hear each other speak. Looking ahead there were two humps we headed for the one on the right which proved to be the north-east spur, it wasn’t too much to recover and we were sitting on the summit in little more than four hours.

Joy was starting to panic as we were hit with a snow storm but it cleared a little and I at least got a peek of Monadh Mor and its layout. We set off but by the time we hit the plateau of Monadh Mor it was covered in thick cloud, following the compass we marched north-west, I knew that if we had to we could head north and take the escape route down into Glen Geusachan, something I didn’t really want to do. We were only 100 yards from the summit when the cloud cleared and we had stunning views. We decided not to stop and eat but to head back the way we had come. On the way back I had a stunning female Dotterel just before we were hit by another snow storm. We arrived back at the car in just over ten hours, that night the Cairngorms where hit by blizzards with roads blocked, we were lucky, but it was the end of hill walking for the week!

We travelled home on Friday to find a large Oak tree in the garden lying on its back, I have spend the 24 hours since trying to move it!


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Monday 13th May

I got home from work and the heavens opened, thinking I would have the Reservoir to myself I went over. Steve Cawthray was on-site just getting ready to leave, the 1st summer Kittiwake (Steve Haynes) was still there although distant feeding at the east end. As we talked a Hobby buzzed through, but surprisingly it didn’t head straight into the Swifts etc, and disappeared as fast as it had arrived.

I continued round and Steve left for pastures new to search for waders at Kingsbury. I had only gone a couple of hundred yards when I picked up a Ringed Plover (my first for a few years on-site). The wind was really screaming but the bird seemed settled enough. I left it and continued around. A Severn Trent worker who had been in the car park talking to us earlier went to search for the Kittiwake camera in hand. I met up with him half way around and he said he had got some shots. He was very enthusiastic and ran though his pictures – on seeing them I realised he had photographed a Dunlin. The said bird was found at the far end on the only bit of shoreline available. I met up with Steve Haynes back at the car park and yesterdays male Yellow Wagtail was again on show. A Kingfisher worked its way towards us, seeing us it turned 90ยบ and worked its way quickly through the gardens to avoid us.


Monday, 13 May 2013

Sunday 12 May

I had a couple of trips today, first early morning where it was pretty much the same as yesterday with the singing Garden Warbler performing really well behind the Sailing Club. Yesterdays Wheatear had gone but there were close on a dozen singing Blackcap on site. We avoided the Reservoir itself and walked along the path adjacent to the railway.

Later, I checked out the Coleshill Quarry, but although there is lots of water it is now completely overgrown and there is no muddy edge so loved by waders. I did however, come across 3 singing Reed Warblers. I popped into Shustoke on the way back as Steve Haynes had seen Arctic Tern earlier in the day. The Arctic Tern was still there and I whiled away half an hour with Steve Cawthray seeing a Yellow Wagtail which was by the Shustoke Sailing Club.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Saturday 11 May

Not a bad day today, I caught up with a few commoner species at the Res. On arrival there had obviously been an influx of hirundines and Swift. Although I didn’t count them there must have been over 1,000 Swift. Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins combined neared 600 birds. Ever available perch was in use as a lot of the birds seemed very tired. I saw several Whitethroat, Blackcap, a couple of still singing Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. In the potato field on the other side of the railway crossing there was a probable Greenland Wheatear, I didn’t have my scope with me but it looked large and bright and the late date suggest that it probable was. The highlight for me was a Garden Warbler singing in the hedgerow behind the Sailing Club. It took me 10 minutes but I eventually did see it.

There was a single Common Tern and a single Gadwall but that was about it.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Weekend

Spent most of the time working in the garden but I did get over to Shustoke once. There were more dogs in the water than wildfowl on it. There only appeared to be a couple of Common Tern, they have probable moved on to there breeding sites now. No doubt they will be back when it comes to feeding the young. There were good numbers of Swift but little else.

A couple of walking on Cannock Chase over the weekend saw me catch up with Wood Lark and Wood Warbler. I also saw Tree Pipit and Redstart but strangely no Pied Flycatchers.

Friday, 3 May 2013

AWOL

Guess where I was last night, a Woodchat Shrike at Brandon Marsh was too good an opportunity to miss – so I didn’t. Also saw Cetti’s Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler there. Also a Lesser Whitethroat was singing as we hit the main road.

A little bit of friendly competition has arisen with the good Captain and myself over our respective year lists. I am a couple ahead of him. So it is too my credit when a Barnacle Goose flew past and he was looking the wrong way, I pointed it out – although I thought twice about it!!!! Having said that it was feral!!!
Woodchat Shrike, Brandon Marsh

Woodchat Shrike, Brandon Marsh

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Update

I am afraid that I have been neglecting my duties at Shustoke over the last week. I have paid a couple of flying visits but have seen nothing particularly of note. Mark Fennell reported Whitethroat over the weekend and there were nearly 20 Common Tern on Saturday evening.

On a personal note I visited Cannock Chase with the Captain over a week ago but most of the migrants weren’t in although we did pick up Redstart, Tree Pipit and Cuckoo. The 1 May saw the Captain and I at Middleton RSPB again it was quiet although I did add Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler to my meagre Year List. And as dusk approached we saw and heard a couple of Garden Warblers at Coton. Then breaking news this morning I walked the dog up the field and had a fly over Shelduck only my second in eleven years. But much more importantly I finally caught up with LINNET! Never in my life have I had to wait until the 2 May to see this species!!!! They are either getting rarer or I am getting lazier!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Saturday 27th April

I had a day in the garden today, I my sons and their friends are reducing the conifers surrounding my garden from 60ft down to about 20ft. Not in an attempt to see more birds on my garden list but to let some light in. The Captain joined us for a few hours this afternoon, and we actually saw a few good birds first a Sparrowhawk was soaring above the house and was soon joined by a pair of Hobby. We were watching them when the Captain picked up a large flock of around 50 Swift really high heading north. Later a pair of Raven flew overhead attracting attention from the gardens breeding Carrion Crows. I was accompanied all day by a singing Song Thrush and there was also Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler singing at times.

Hopefully though, with the trees a lot lower I might pick up anything high in the sky from the east and north now!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Wednesday 24th April

An adult Little Gull graced the Reservoir today (Steve Haynes) he also had a fly over Whimbrel. I took a walk over late evening the gull was still present with eight Common Tern, Kittiwake and a singing Blackcap in the car park.

Looking at the water level I think any waders this spring are all going to be fly over!!!

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Weekend and Monday

I have visited the last three days but there hasn’t been much to report. On Saturday Mark Fennell reported a couple of Blackcap, I had at least five today on a flying visit at lunchtime. It was strangely quiet with few birds singing. There were only four Common Tern today and c.350 Black-headed Gulls.

Even the hirundines have been thin on the ground over the weekend with just single figures.

Oh, and the Kittiwake is still around!

Later on there was a single Common Sandpiper and a calling male Tawny Owl near the small pool, this is the same area that I have heard one calling for the previous two years.

Kittiwake

Common Tern

Friday, 19 April 2013

Friday 19th April

Had a wander this afternoon, not much about 12 Common Tern, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff and a duck that dare not say its name. Pretty poor really, not help by a text from a friend in Scotland who had a Pallid Harrier fly over his head on his local patch!

Oh and the Kittiwake is still around.