Monday, 31 December 2018

Black-throated Diver on Arrow Valley Lake (Redditch)........honest !

The Arrow Valley Lake in Redditch is just five minutes from home and I must have walked the 1.5 miles of the lake a thousand times since we moved to Redditch some thirty years ago.

Quality birds I've seen there are far from extensive and are restricted to Slavonian Grebe, Common Sandpiper, Smew & a Common Redstart. Imagine my surprise when a Black-throated Diver was reported on Saturday after re-locating from Lower Bittell, about eight miles away.

This striking Diver, that breeds in Scotland & northern europe, was showing very well given some patience. Diving for very long periods often ending up in different areas of the lake. There were quite a few people who kept moving around the lake but I found holding one position the best plan as the bird would appear at close quarters given time.

The bird was still present on late Sunday afternoon when I took in a quick lap with Mrs D. 

What a finish to local birding for 2018. Brilliant.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Rolling into Christmas

Winter scenes
Wigeon (Main pit)
Chiffchaff (Abbots Salford)
Plenty of Thrushes
Great White Egret
Meadow Pipiy
Gosanders (Abbots Salford)
Shelduck (Main pit)

Hiding Great White Egret
Pied Wagtail
Brown Hare
There hasn't been a lot to report as we edge to the end of 2018. The water levels have risen giving hope of a late rare duck or grebe and it's suddenly become sticky underfoot. I've been doing some work with an unnamed third party to try to secure some of the remaining habitat purely for conservation. The third party have an outstanding conservation record, outstanding management record and have a solid financial standing. We are very much hoping the work done will open the door for some formal discussions to take place.

At the pits, Great Black-backed Gull was a late addition to the year list taking it to 143. Most of the counts have remained pretty stable. Our Shelduck have returned to the main pit whilst the Peregrine has been in fine form in recent days, hunting at close quarters. Other counts have included a Water Rail, 14 Gadwall, 37 Shoveler, 135 Teal, 10 Wigeon, male Bullfinch, 44 Cormorant, 2 Greenfinch, 2 Goosander, Peregrine, Red Kite, 2 Snipe, 200 Fieldfare & 150 Redwing. 

Down at Abbots Salford, there has been at least one Great White Egret but sometimes two.  Other sightings have included 2 drake Pintail, 3 Pochard, 6 Wigeon, 7 Goosander, 4 Bullfinch, 3 Shelduck, 2 Shoveler, Kingsiher, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 20 Grey Heron, Chiffchaff and a Water Rail.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Slimbridge Sunday

Just a short blog from a visit to Slimbridge on Sunday with Mrs D. We entered early with our membership enabling us to see to see all the Bewick's Swans ready for their morning feed in the Rushy Pen. 40 were present with 100+Shelduck, 115 Pochard, 97 Pintail and 82 Teal.

There were a huge number of birds viewed from most hides, it was great to see this years juvenile Cranes out on the Tack Piece, among 12 observed.  The birds were moving around all morning and estimates included 240 Barnacle Geese, 60 White-fronted Geese, 2800 Wigeon, 600 Teal, 1200 Golden Plover, 2500 Lapwing & 300 Dunlin. Two Peregrines were stalking the birds all morning so there were regular flocks of swirling Lapwings & Plovers above us. 

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Great White Egret....finally.....

After not being able to track down the wandering Great White Egret in recent weeks I thought I'd try Abbots Salford on Saturday as I'd noticed on BirdTrack the bird had been reported there.  My hunch proved correct as I found the Egret feeding in front of the reeds on the hide side of the pools. The bird seemed very comfortable in the company of the local herons, 16 recorded. Other birds present were 3 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Goosander flying over,  & a Green Sandpiper. After getting some excellent views I headed back to Salford Priors where it was very quiet except  for 4 Wigeon, 11 Pochard, 22 Shoveler,  a Shelduck briefly, Grey Wagtail, 4 Siskin, 4 Lapwing, 6 Goldcrest, 2 Raven and a Sparrowhawk.

On Sunday Jon discovered a Great White Egret on the main pit late morning, so could this have been the same bird ? As I was getting ready to head down, Francis text to say he had two at Abbots Salford ! The car went a little faster down the lanes and it was great to see both birds on the same pool. We both checked Salford Priors but there wasn't any sign. Just the two Great White Egrets in the area.

Jon's count included :- 7 Little Grebe, 10 Bormorant, 4 Grey Heron, 17 Mute Swan, 485 Greylag, 615 Canada Geese, 18 Gadwall, 134 teal, 420 Mallard, 23 Shoveler, 13 Pochard, 56 Tufted Duck, 137 Coot, 38 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, 2 Green Sandpiper (Pophills), 100 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 35 Herring Gulls, 1 injured second winter Common Gull, 900 Wood Pigeon, 29 Meadow Pipits, 20 Skylark, 250 Fieldfare, 200 Redwing, 3 Jay, 2 Raven and 15 Siskin.

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.