Saturday, 8 December 2018

Turtle Dove summary

Thought I'd share a few images taken this summer of the local Turtle Doves that continue to battle on despite the horrific migration they are subjected to across the Mediterranean. 

Sightings within the Gravel Pit boundary are now very limited since the area where the Doves feed daily was flattened by Cemex a number of summers ago despite it being pointed out how valuable this small area was to the birds. The area has since had no purpose at all which makes the work done even more senseless. The RSPB were also in attendance at this meeting yet they did nothing to protect this small area.

Thankfully one local land owner remain very sympathic to the birds and has helped endlessly to try and keep them as a breeding species. The good news for the birds now is that they are practically on private land the whole time during the summer and the area is well protected. 

There were no juveniles reported this year for the first time which is very disappointing but the breeding area is in very thick cover. There was only a couple of juvenile sightings the previous year. 

Nationally Turtle Doves numbers have fallen by a staggering 71% between 2010 and 2015, if you search on BirdTrack it really backs this fact up.

Let's keep everything crossed that the birds make it back next summer and they fight back from their perilous position. 

Many thanks to those who help watch the key areas and report back sightings.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Keeping it local

Greylag flock on main pit
Squire on duty
Green Sandpiper (Abbots Salford)
Winter Thrushes
Bank of Abbots Salford
Abbots Salford
Abbots Salford
Once again very little variation to report, the shooting season appears to be at it's peak which seems to be really unsettling the wildfowl. 

Best of the midweek reports were 14 Pochard & 20 Golden Plover on Wednesday by Mark Clarke whilst Chris Lane saw the Great White Egret with a Little Egret flying south over main pit on Thursday. The Great White was apparently at Abbots Salford on Saturday but I  only found out when I looked on BirdTrack on Sunday. Shame as there were quite a few people who would have liked to see it. Let's hope it sticks around in area a little longer.

Weekend Salford Priors highlights included :-12 Pochard, 90 Teal, 10 Gadwall, 12 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 4 Snipe, 80 Lapwing, 1 Pied Wagtail, 14 Skylark, 2 Buzzard and 350 Greylag in the company of the Squire.

On Monday, I opted to try Abbots Salford as there was shooting on the east fields of the main pit. A pleasant enough walk which I spent most time watching a mixed flock of 400 Redwing & Fieldfare feeding on winter berries. Bullfinches are much more plentiful here than at the pits and always good to observe. Other sightings included a Green Sandpiper, Great Crested Grebe, 105 Black-headed Gulls, 15 Grey Heron, 19 Cormorant and 6 Stock Doves. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Home & away birding

Main Pit
Fishing Pool
View through the trees
Camp Lane - Grimley
Roadside view
American Wigeon 
Not a great deal happening at the pits. With some decent birds around Worcestershire we were certainly hoping for a change from the normal. 

Sightings & counts from last week included :-

22/11 (CL MC) - 2 Goosander, 6 Pochard, 10 Shoveler, Peregrine, Green Sandpiper & 3 Snipe.

24/11 (ND) - 2 Wigeon, 6 Pochard, 20 Shoveler, 40 Lapwing, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1 Common Gull, 170 Fieldfare, 200 Starling, 30 Meadow Pipits, 15 Skylark & Green Sandpiper.

25/11 (ND) - 7 Pochard, 86 Teal, 23 Black-head Gull, Common Gull, 3  Lesser Black-backed Gulls & Green Sandpiper.

On Monday I decided on a change of scenery and headed over the river to Grimley. First stop was Holt Fleet where my target species was flushed twice within the same visit. On arrival I was pleased to see the first two winter drake Smew still on the fishing pool only for a dog walker to flush them, thankfully they moved onto nearby Sling Pool. After scoping them at distance I walked along the road to try and take a few shots through the trees. This was going quite well until a birder walked straight down the pool with no field craft flushing the ducks. Some people just can't help themselves. 

I then headed down to Grimley where I caught up with Brian Stretch who had earlier had a Siberian Chiffchaff, only 3 Commons during my time before we headed up to Wagon Wheel where the American Wigeon showed very well for us. Also present were 160+ Wigeon, Little Egret & a Common Sandpiper. Two nice bonus year ticks on a quality morning. 

I'm already planning next year with two trips already booked to Dorset & Spurn. 

Thursday, 22 November 2018

First thoughts of winter on recovery weekend

Goldeneye (Mark Clarke)
Jon on patrol
Canada Geese leaving main pit
Reed Bunting
Red Kite
Meadow Pipit
After a very big day & night out in Cheltenham I was in no condition to be doing my normal Saturday shift. I used the day to get myself back to normal and did a full audit on Sunday with Jon.

As I passed through Wheatley, 2 Red Kites were showing nicely but the light wasn't very good so I carried on down to the pits. 

Best birds of the day were an adult male Merlin, 2 Dunlin & a Golden Plover. My personal favourites were a flock of Fieldfare that were in the Marsh Farm orchard. Always a sign winter is around the corner. 

Counts included :- 8 Little Grebe, 78 Cormorant, 4 Grey Heron, 20 Mute Swan, 680 Greylag, 370 Canada Geese, 31 Wigeon, 10 gadwall, 105 Teal, 280 Mallard, 12 Shoveler, 155 Coot, 33 Lapwing, 1 Snipe, 70 LBBG, 30 Herring Gull, 7 Common Gull, 700 Wood Pigeon, 3 Green Woodpecker, 35 Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, 60 Carrion Crow, 2 Raven, 30 Goldfinch, 40 Siskin (in alders on souther boundary). Late Peacock & Common Darter.

I picked up a male Stonechat in an unusual spot which rounded the day off nicely.

Midweek 2 Goldeneyes were recorded by a number of the team whilst a Water Rail was recorded on edge of river at Broom.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Can't beat a bit of Devon

Labrador Bay
Cirl Bunting
Rainbow on arrival
The Cirl Bunting were very camera shy
Struggling to get a shot
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
Armistice Day procession
Family selfie
Great place to watch the march
Purple Sandpiper
Turnstone on the breakwater

We decided to head down the M5 on Saturday to catch up with the outlaws in Devon. The weekend would be heavy in cakes and coffee but also grabbed a couple of sessions of birds between the cake eating.

On Saturday we walked across Exmouth beach opposite Dawlish Warren and recorded the local species of Oystercatchers, Shags, Cormorant, Curlew but nothing out of the ordinary. I've had previous success around Exmouth Sailing Club with Black Redstarts and I was pleased to find two birds over wintering despite the huge housing development.

On Sunday, we headed to Labrador Bay to see the impressive Cirl Buntings. I've only seen them once previously further down the coast. This small reserve is now managed by the RSPB and with their careful managements the Buntings have flourished. There are now 20 pairs doing well here whilst the overall picture is also looking healthy with over 800 pairs in the UK.

It didn't take us long to track them down but getting a clear photographic opportunity took much longer. If you are heading that way prepare for some steep and uneven walking. 

From there we had a couple of hours in Brixham to take in the Armistice Day procession & two minutes silence. It was excellent to see so many people recognises what the day means and showing their support.

We walked along the breakwater & recorded a Red-throated Diver, 5 Turnstones and 2 Purple Sandpiper before retreating for lunch followed by the drive home. 

Annual record falls at pits

Needing one bird to level our annual record & two to beat it, our regular watching produced the goods by finding two year ticks.

Chris Lane found a female Goldeneye on the main pit on Wednesday & Mike Inskip flushed a Woodcock on Saturday taking us to 142 species of the year.

Jon's Sunday count included :- 7 Little Grebe, 12 Cormorant, 1 Liitle Egret (Pophills), 4 Gey Heron, 20 Mute Swan, 680 Greylag Geese (County record), 260 Canada Geese, 10 Gadwall, 77 Teal, 245 Mallard, 9 Shoveler, 37 Tufted Duck, 133 Coot, 63 Lapwing, 1 Green Sandpiper, 7 Common Gull, 140 LBBG, 45 Herring Gull, 40 Stock Dove, 1 Little Owl, 35 Skylark, 20 Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, 110 Fielfare flying south, 1 Raven, 3 Brambling, 3 Redpoll & a late Common Darter.