Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Little Gull at Earlswood

Nice comparison with Black-headed Gull
Little Gull
Close up digiscope
Common Tern
Little Gull

I was all set and ready to go out for a cycle on Monday however the temptation to see a Little Gull proved to much so I made the fifteen minute drive to Earlswood.

On reaching the causeway I scanned both pools before picking up the little beauty flying with the Black-headed Gulls on Windmill Pool (left of causeway). I walked closer down to get some better views. The Gull was flying past me repeatingly within twenty five feet allowing me to see in detail the all black head and eye, black underwing, rounded white tip on wing and size comparison. 

This is by far the best I've seen a Little Gull and I'd urge anyone to go and see it if it hangs around. 

There were around 30-40 Common Terns that came through as it rained but sadly no Arctics.

I did head down to Salford Priors after but sadly no Terns at all.

Whinchats fly into Morton Bagot

After a 15 mile cycle and a spot of gardening I checked the sightings to see a Whinchat reported at Morton Bagot which is only five minutes from home on the other side of Studley.

After parking up I headed down the patch towards the flash to the song of Lesser Whitethroat and Yellowhammer. Surprise was the local Tawny Owl calling so early in the evening.

As I reached the bottom of the hill I picked up two male Whinchat in the field where new trees had been planted. The superb evening light made it a pleasure to watch these chats  from the edge of the field and they certainly wasn't bothered by me. The striking white line above the eye and the orange throat & breast were stunning to see so well.

Upton Warren Alldayer

Upton Warren - The Moors
The list in full flow
Common Sandpiper
Digiscoping mid afternoon at Hanbury
Mediterranean Gull
Stock Dove
After a quick recharge of the batteries I headed over to Upton Warren to support the All Day challenge against similar reserves.

I did two different visits either side of a trip to Hanbury to watch my youngest have his first innings in senior cricket (batting very well). As always there was great comradeir around the reserve and in the hides. Days like this remind you that there are still plenty of genuine nice people in the world. 

My own highlights was three Dunlin, Med Gull,a very showy Common Sandpiper and of course the Avocet. These are the all birds recorded on the day :-

Mute swan, Greylag, Canada Geese, Shelduck, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Water Rail, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron

Waders (10) 
Avocet, Oystercatcher, LRP, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Jack snipe, Curlew, Common Sandpiper

Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine, Tawny owl,

Med Gull, BHG, Herring Gull, LBBG, Common Tern

Non passerines(10)
Pheasant, Collared dove, Stock Dove, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Swift, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker.

some passers (13)
Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, 

Warblers (9)
Cettis Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler

Final scores was Upton Warren 91, Belvide 91, Grimley 88, Sandwell 85, Marsh Lane 82, Middleton 73

Yellow Wagtails arrive at Salford Priors

Yellow Wagtail

It was an early start at the Gravel Pits on Sunday but the forecasted showers did not materialise leading to very little passage of migrants.

My first Lesser Whitethroat was recorded at Pophills whilst a Common Whitethroat was singing further up on hedgeline. Five Common Sandpipers were on the shoreline (another 4 on main pit).

On the main pit three Dunlin were on the main spit which was then joined by two Yellow Wagtails which I was pleased about. We recorded a total of five during the walk.

The Jack Snipe was still present in his usual place and it was good to hear the Cetti's Warbler.

Yellow Wagtail became my 99th species of the year at Salford Priors this year, what will bring the magic 100 up ?

Monday, 27 April 2015

Loving the Wyre Forest

The Wyre Forest is an annual spring 'must visit' location and its only thirty minutes from home. Walking from Dry Mill Lane with the good lady wife we were quickly among the Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. 

When we reached the bench we headed into the paddock on the left where Mary Ann picked up a bird which turned out to be a Tree Pipit. The bird was displaying and was perched very high on a number of the trees around us. At the same time a Greater Spotted Woodpecker was drumming high above us. We then picked up a calling Cuckoo north of our location, a true sign of spring. 

We didn't have any luck locating the Pied Flycatchers I was keen to see in Knowles Coppice but a Redstart was in the old orchard. The Cuckoo kept calling but he was out of sight over the ridge but we did find a Treecreeper going about it's early morning business. 

Upon reaching Dowles Brook two Mandarin Ducks were swimming by the bridge but quickly flew up stream when they saw us. As we headed along the brook we observed Kingfisher, Grey Heron and Grey Wagtail but sadly no Dipper. 

The visit was rounded off by watching the Wood Warblers at close quarters on the slope back to the old railway line. A lot of the time you are looking up at their white under parts as they sing above you but occasionally you get to see the stunning yellow upper parts. We rounded off the morning with a coffee and sandwich in Bewdley. 

M5 Friday twitch for Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-Billed Grebe

I wasn't best happy with a late Friday meeting in Worcester however as it turned out it couldn't have been better as I headed south for an hour to Berkeley in Gloucestershire to twitch a Pied-billed Grebe that had been reported that morning.

I had tried to see one on the Somerset levels two years ago without success but thankfully this bird duly delivered following a walk for a about a mile south of Oldbury Power Station. 

On arrival at the seawall the bird was roosting and could easily be mistaken for a small rock but as the tide drifted out this allowed me and two other birders some great views. My sort of twitch, one hour journey, easy parking, nice walk with only a couple of birders.

Great find by patch birder Lee Taylor. The bird was not relocated on Saturday but looks to have moved north to Leighton Moss in Lancashire.

Heading back to the car a Peregrine was calling from the power station roof.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Red-necked Grebe is Upton Warren first

I almost choked on my lunch on Wednesday when I received a text from Upton Warren warden John Belsey that a Red-necked Grebe had been located on the Moors Pool. I had to endure another three hours before leaving work to head down the M5.

It was a mega twitch for Worcestershire with an estimated 150-200 people calling in to Worcestershire's premier reserve to catch up with the Grebe which was the first for the site. Red-necked Grebes are scarce winter visitors to the UK so to see the bird in summer plumage at my local reserve was a real treat. It was great to see the hides full of people enjoying the wildlife. Will the site attract another rarity this weekend as the all dayer is hosted ?

Monday, 20 April 2015

Move movement at Salford Priors

Returning Reed Warbler

Thursday afternoons visit to the pits saw me find my first Hobby of 2015 with it flying through in the field where Redstart was last week. It did perch up for a few seconds before it spotted me so I could 100% confirm its identification. A pair of Kestrel were hunting the Snipe meadow whilst a single Swallow past me when on Pophills.

On Saturday, Lee arrived at the same time, so we set off together around the site. The main pit was pretty much as normal minus the Sandpipers. Two Sand Martin did pass through which pleased Lee as they were his first of the year. As we headed past the Old lagoons a Cuckoo took flight heading past. We tried and relocate the bird but sadly no luck. We did however find 4 calling Sedge Warblers of which one allowed us some great views. The Little Ringed Plovers were noted in three different locations.

I had my first umpiring appointment on Sunday so I had to start well before Jon. On comparing the sightings he had the superior return. My only additional sightings to Saturday was a Hobby that flew from edge of planation and number of Reed Warblers that had arrived overnight. I flushed three late Snipe from the top of one of the bunds. It was great to see and hear them in the reed beds again. Jon recorded a Whimbrel flying through, Common & Lesser Whitethroats and Yellow Wagtails. 

Black-winged Stilt's at RSPB Middleton Lakes

 Black-winged Stilt
 Black-winged Stilt
 RSPB Middleton Lakes
 Woodland view
 Common Tern
I've got no idea
Yellow Wagtail

After an early morning patch visit followed by some sports taxi duties and watching the lads play their Saturday sport, I couldn't resist the temptation of a 40 minute twitch to RSPB Middleton Lakes which is close to Drayton Manor Park.

The service road had showed minor signs of repair but the old huge crater pot holes were still there as you edged towards the car park. Six Swallows were flying around the quary workings half way up the drive.

Making the walk down the lakes the Warblers sounded in good heart espiacally the Blackcaps that could be seen in most of the bushes. After crossing the canal I quickly scanned the first pool to find a drake Garganey sleeping on the edge of the island. It had been reported earlier on in the week, when leaving 2 hours later, I couldn't relocate the duck much to my annoyance.

I headed down towards the screen and the far end of the reserve where two Black-winged Slits were showing well through the scope. It will be interesting 
to see how long they stay or even better could they potentially breed given their success elsewhere.

The year ticks continued to be observed with three Common Tern, Ringed Plover and Whitethroat whilst I recorded at least three Cettis Warbler, Litte Egret and three Avocets.

Finally as I headed for car I located a Yellow Wagtail in a horse paddock as I was starting to scope a Green Woodpecker. I was chuffed to bits with the find.

A great visit but do wish they would sort out that service road.

Spring bingers pick up pace

Peregrine looking for afternoon snack
Redstart location
White Wagtail

The pace picked up last week at the Salford Priors Gravel Pits with 67 species recorded over my three visits. Thursday saw we watching the Peregrine on the look out for an afternoon snack whilst the flock of Linnets were feeding in the Old Workings. A Great Crested Grebe was on Pophills pit whilst the first Blackcap of year was singing in front of me on the edge of the plantation.

Two weekend visits brought further new arrivals. My find of the weekend was undoubtedly a Common Redstart I found in the bottom meadow. The bird was sitting up in the hedgerow  before diving for cover when spotting me. Jon then managed to re-locate the bird but it was very difficult to get a digiscope image due to the wind and distance. 

On the main pit a White Wagtail graced the east shore whilst elsewhere there was a Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and a Dunlin (also appeared on Pophills).

We flushed a male Wheatear on the viewing area of Snipe meadow whilst a Redshank and two Little Ringed Plover joined the regular Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. Our site Jack Snipe was in it's normal spot, perhaps it's last appearance before heading to its breeding grounds.

Other migrants included 17 House Martins and two Willow Warblers. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Earlswood Ring Ouzel

After the previous days success I noted via Twitter Matt @earlswoodbirds had located a Ring Ouzel in the horse paddock off Gypsy Lane in Earlswood. Following a quick text to him on site to confirm it was still there I made the journey over in quick time and found Matt and a couple of other birders in attendance.

The bird was fairly distant but allowing some nice views given the fading light. 

Ring Ouzel is a 2 pointer on the Patchwork Challenge so will need to work extra hard to get one of these at the pits. Great find Matt ! Arrrhhhhh !

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Ouzelling about on Titterstone Clee Hill

Not a bad sight when getting out of the car
Ring Ouzel
Ring Ouzel
Ring Ouzel
Old Quarry workings
Great place on a calm day
Titterstone Clee Hill Summit
Wheatear (down low)
Wheatear (up above)

With one final day off before returning to work I headed west to Shropshire for a bit of ouzelling at Titterstone Clee Hill. With the weather looking beautiful the hour drive soon past. 

Upon getting out of the car I picked up a Ring Ouzel towards the summit and grabbed a quick digiscoped image just incase I didn't pick another one up. The old workings was looking as eerie as ever but was relatively bird free so I headed up towards the summit. As I headed upwards I past a number of Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks.

Towards the top I located a pair of Ring Ouzels so I sat down on a comfortable clump of grass and watched the birds feeding on earth worms along the rocks and grass on the summit above the old workings. It always amazes me how distinctive their striking white breast band is. These birds will be refuelling here before they continue their path further north to their breeding grounds.

Spring arrivals at Salford Priors

A couple of new arrival and patch ticks last weekend comprised of a Wheatear and a Redshank. The Wheatear was on the old landfill area towards the hidden pools whilst we observed the Redshank in Snipe Meadow, the main pit and also Pophills Pit.

A Goosander was on the spit of the main pit, the first one I have seen land on the patch. Three Jack Snipe were flushed from the old lagoon.There hasn't been any warbler movement as yet but we were very surprised to find a Cetti's Warbler in the reeds by the hidden pools. We were disappointed that we didn't pick any raptors moving through the area but I did check in to see the Little Owl on the way home whilst the normal Sparrowhawk and Peregrine were recorded during the morning. 

Looks like it will have to be Osprey next week !

Best of the rest in Devon

River Dart in Dartmouth

It would be rude to not take a walk up on Berry Head when down in Devon and it was great to see a Gannet flying very close to the edge of the cliffs. Around 300-500 Guillemots had returned to the cliffs and there was a small number of shags. I also found a pair of Rock Pipits towards the far end of the rock face. At the second  attempt of walking the perimeter fields I located a Cirl Bunting taking cover from the wind (must say I did find the dogs not on leads annoying). On the plus side the car park machine was not working enabling a free for all rampage for parking.

From there we headed down into Brixham harbour for a cup of tea at the breakwater car park before walking along to see the flock of resident Purple Sandpiper and Turnstones. These are difficult birds to see but I find this location one of the most reliable in the country.

Finally, on the journey back home we stopped at RSPB Bowling Green Marsh to get some great views of a Spotted Redshank that was feeding in the estuary. 

Despite the chest infection and not being able to walk as far as I would normally we all had a good Easter break.