Sunday, 31 May 2015


Turn east off B4088 at Dunnington towards Broom. Head down hill and along lane. After taking a couple of sharp turns the road straightens. On the left hand side there is a green barrier. Park by gate. If you pass over A46 you have gone to far.(Parking possible along lane)

View from edge of field. Birds favouring north shore in line with Barn behind the pit. Bird also seen on east shore with Little Ringed Plover.

Please respect land owner, Ragley Estates. There are no active working in this area of the pits. 

Full report to be posted ASAP. Found by Mike Inslip late morning (TBC)

Friday, 29 May 2015

Red-necked Phalarope twitch to Slimbridge

Digiscoped image
Web Image
Digiscoped image

Before leaving Otmoor, Brian Stretch of The Birders Store, Worcester kindly let me know that a Red-necked Phalarope has been reported at Slimbridge. This small rare wader is a bird I've wanted to see since I started birding. A quick check on the SatNav revealed it was about ninety minutes away, easy decision, lets go !

The journey started well when I found another Turtle Dove on the edge of Oxfordshire as we headed west. On arriving at Slimbridge the car park was packed with half-term families so we had to weave our way through the waves of people faster than Lewis Hamilton going through the field at Monaco. 

Upon reaching the Ziess hide there wasn't a sole to be seen, not a good sign. Heading up the steps I had everything crossed. Scanning with eyes you couldn't see anything different however as soon as I set up the scope I could see the little beauty foraging for food along the waters edge.

These waders breed on wet mashes on mountainsides in Tundra & Northern Scotland and are rarely seen on spring passage. The bird was in summer plumage which was a real bonus. I genuinely chuffed to bits to this this little superstar.

I found this article about their migration via the BBC, well worth a watch.

Beautiful Otmoor

 Beautiful Otmoor
Common Tern
 Turtle Dove
 Turtle Dove
 Turtle Dove

With the lads tied up with friends this enabled me to plan a few hours down at RSPB Otmoor for some quality birding. Setting off at 7.15am it took us just over an hour to land in the car park. Garden Warblers and Blackcaps greeted us whilst Skylarks were singing high above us as we walked up the path past the feeders. 

The main pasture had a nice selection of birds including Red Kites, Buzzard, Snipe, Lapwing, Tufted Duck and Little Egret. Many of the Lapwing took flight above their nests when any corvids were getting close to warn off the predators. 

On approaching the wildlife hide a Yellowhammer was feeding with a flock of Linnets on the gravel allowing some great views. From inside a Shoveller was on the pool and a Redshank was feeding on the waters edge.

Stepping outside we picked up a Cuckoo calling which I manage to find with my scope although it was a long way away. Further along the walk way we found pairs of Common Terns at different places.

As we walked back towards the car park we heard our first Turtle Dove of the day purring. Fantastic ! It wasn't long before we had located the bird sat up and being very comfortable with us and other passers by watching him go about his early summer routine.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Coombe Hill NR's Temminck's Stint

 Temminck's Stint
 Temminck's Stint
Temminck's Stint
 Coombs Hill Nature Reserve

 Pied Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher

A week off for the Whitsun holiday will hopefully enable me to get out a see some nice birds. With the weather set fair I flew down the M5 to junction 9 to visit Coombs Hill Nature Reserve. A leisurely walk along the canal took me to a new Grundon Hide which had been replaced twice since my last visit due to flooding and wind. 

A Temminck's Stint had been reported in previous days but it kept its head down for thirty minutes until I picked it up when it came out of the undergrowth to the waters edge. The scope views were good but it was difficult to get a digiscoped image due to the low light level. A Cuckoo was calling on a dead tree to the left of the canal. Further along the water line two Lapwing chicks were enjoying their first steps closely watched by mom. Other sightings included 5 Mite Swans, Litte Ringed Plover, 3 Curlew and an array of warblers. 

Next stop on my tour of Gloucestershire was Highnam Woods which was only 15 minutes away. Within two minutes I'd picked up two Marsh Tits, a flock a Long Tailed Tits, Nuthatches and a male Nightingale. Always a pleasure to hear these birds.

My final stop was RSPB Nagshead where I caught up one of my favourite summer stars the Pied Flycatcher.I had hoped a good number would be showing well but I only tracked down two males whilst I presumed the females were on nests. Whilst walking around there were good numbers of the normal woodland birds and I picked up a Wood Warbler by the car park. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Spotted Sandpiper at Wellington Gravel Pits

 Best digiscope image I could manage
 Collins Guide image
Location map

I fancied a bit of variation this weekend so I headed out to Herefordshire today (Sunday) to catch up with a reported Spotted Sandpiper.

The journey took around an hour and parking was on a lay-by just off the A49. A path way took you up to two viewing points both through fences. It took a good hour before we managed to locate the bird on the far side of the pit feeding on the edge of a water channel. Viewing was limited so I moved back down the path which enabled clearer views of the whole channel.

Its always great to see a lifer and especially one in summer plumage. The only disappointment was it would have been nice if it had been much closer. Oh well, you can't have everything. Top bird and a nice bit of tan topping up. 

Patchwork Challenge

Patchwork Challenge latest results have been published showing I'm just holding off the challenge of the local Morton Bagot & Earlswood. With only 3 extra species added since we could be under pressure however with Red Kite being worth two points you never know.

North Wales - Day 3 - Glaslyn Osprey

My third and final day took me to Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife to see one of three pairs of Ospreys that breed in Wales. The female Osprey “Glaslyn” was anchored down on an egg whilst her partner was out hunting. The helpful staff advised me it had been a very tramatic year for the Glaslyn as her current partner was her third of the year after her  partner from previous years had not returned sadly. Hopefully she will have a couple of more eggs in the coming days (normally 3 days apart) and has a healthy summer.

Heading towards home I picked up more Pied Flycatcher along the roadside to ease the journey time back to the Midlands.

North Wales - Day 2 - South Stack & plenty of Terns

 Conwy Valley
 South Stack Lighthouse

 South Stack - Land of the Choughs
Sandwich Terns
 Red Breasted Merganser
 Sandwich Tern 
Arctic Tern nest building
Cemlyn Bay Lagoon 
 Pied Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher

The village in which I was staying (Rowan) had converted the local phone box into a library which had a number of local walks so given I was up at 5.30 I thought I’d try an hours walk before breakfast. After walking for about 35 minutes a Spotted Flycatcher caught me eye flicking it’s tail catching flies. A great find, most pleasing. After passing through the field I came to a old farm where I found a male and female Common Redstart. The male was clearly trying to court the female, sadly the dull light didn’t enable me to get a photograph but it would have been hard to really capture the stunning image in front of me.

After breakfast we all headed off to Anglesey in awful weather however on arrival at RSPB South Stack the skies cleared allowing fantastic views of all the seabirds including Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Great Black-backed Gulls. My Puffin search was not going to plan until one finally popped out of a burrow on the light house side of the cliffs. I also located a Rock Pipit feeding on the cliffs. The best bird at South Stack in my opinion is the fantastic Chough. The views were superb of these glossy metallic looking birds and their aerobatic flying could be seen at its best in the wind. Inside the Ellis Tower there was a camera showing the Chough youngsters on the nest. After a lovely coffee and cake we headed back through the heather where there were Stonechats and Swallows.

Cemlyn Bay is a beautiful place that is practically ruined by the power station however the wildlife is fantastic. From the moment we got out of the car Arctic & Sandwich Terns passed over our heads while on the coast line 14 Ringed Plover were keeping company with six Turstones and eight Dunlin. The Tern colony was full of action with the birds establishing territory’s ahead of the breeding season. If you have never visited I’d urge you to. When heading back to car a pair of Red-breasted Merganser came into view whilst a Little Egret fed on the edge of the lagoon by an Oystercatcher. We then had a slow drive round the rest of the island before heading towards home. A quick stop looking for Dippers was rewarded with a calling Pied Flycatcher and Grey Wagtail. A quality day out.

North Wales - Day 1 - Black Grouse among the stars on show

Black Grouse 
 Point of Ayr
Odd one out
Little Tern
RSPB Conwy

The beautiful coast lines, estuary’s and mountains of North Wales are always a temptation so when I had an invite to stay with my parents who were on holiday I instantly booked a couple of days off.

After a late (ish) Saturday night I left early to Worlds End near Wrexham. The two hour journey was pretty easy given as I climbed up the moorland a Wheatear greeted me on a stone just outside the car. There were only a couple of Black Grouse in the place I’d seen them before however after just another half a mile up the road another 14 Black Grouse were leking. It always great to see these beasts go about their morning ritual.

At the far end of the moor I had a short walk on the paths to stretch the legs and a calling Cuckoo, Tree Pipit and Stonechat. Further down the valley a Redstart flew straight across in front of me whilst Wood Warblers were singing their hearts out and a Dipper was busy feeding on the fast flowing stream.

Next stop was Point of Ayr on the coast, and whilst the views from the hide were disappointing apart from a Whimbrel when I walked to the Lighthouse end of the beach I found a huge flock of Dunlin which were with Sanderlings and Ringed Plovers. Sadly local dog walkers were letting their dogs roam loose causing the birds to be very unsettled. This type of behaviour really gives areas and dog walkers a bad name. On the plus side the parking was free and a local cafĂ© duly delivered a great bacon sandwich and cup of tea. Despite it still being quite early in the season I stopped in at  Gronant, Prestatyn to see the returning Little Terns. The colony looked to be all set up and ready for the Terns but I could only locate around six birds but there was over 40 Sandwich Tern sat out on the coastline.

Final stop of the day was RSPB Conwy where I had a slow walk around the reserve taking in the 100+ Shelduck and 15 Little Egrets on the estuary whist Swifts and Sand Martin were feeding low above the reserve lakes.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Warwickshire Bird Race

 Red-legged Partridge - a valuable point
 Jon on the lookout
On the hunt for a Treecreeper
 Marsh Harrier (file photo)
On Saturday Jon and I represented Salford Priors GP in the Warwickshire bird race competing against other pro-active patches.

105 species were recorded by the teams across the county and looking at the findings I think we bagged the top bird when a first year Marsh Harrier past over us heading south.

A good day was had by all but joined up area's seemed out of balance. 

The final results :-

1. Ladywalk/Coton/Shustoke                      84
2. Brandon Marsh                                      77
3. Morton Bagot/Haselor/Middle Spernal      76
4. Salford Priors                                         75
5. Charlecote                                             71
6. Earlswood                                              65
7. Draycote Water                                      64
8. Farnborough                                           58
9. The Dump                                              53

Surprise of the day was the poor result for Draycote Water. Roll on next May !