Sunday, 28 January 2018

Peregrine finally added at pits

Patch Peregrine
Pophills Teal
Increase of water levels
Winter Lapwings
After a false dawn ten days perviously I'm really hoping I've turned the corner with this shocking chest / flu infection. On Sunday, I attempted to get some air for first time for a number of weeks. Restricted in walking distance I drove around the recording area taking in as many areas as I could. 

Best sighting of the morning was a male Peregrine sat out on the rough ground by the main pit. It was so good to hear the Skylarks singing & the Lapwings in the sky.

Other sightings included 350 Greylag, 250 Canada Geese, Sparrowhawk, 3 Buzzard, 3 Green Sandpiper, 80 Teal, 2 Pochard, 3 Shelduck, 5 Skylark, 4 Wigeon, 9 Shoveler, 2 Mute Swan, a Raven & 150 Lapwing.

The Linnet flock are still at Pitchill but seems to have reduced in size since the turn of the year. There were 270 Lapwing by the river at Abbots Salford. 

Great Northern Diver at Ripple Pits

Given I was close to the M50 I thought I'd head north or the Penduline Tit through Ashleworth Ham before stopping at Ripple Pits. There was a lovely selection of wildfowl including good number of Teal, Wigeon & stunning Pintail.

Ready for a long slog along the river I was surprised to find a new pit (named the north pit) was only a couple of hundred metres from the car park. Without any trouble I located the juvenile Great Northern Diver showing well. The wind made the water a bit too choppy for good photos but I managed the above. The bird looked in good condition and was diving for long periods. The only other birds of note were 3 Wigeon (2 drakes) & a Grey Heron.

Plock Court Penduline Tit

With a very gloomy forecast for the coming days I opted to head down the M5 to hopefully catch up with the first winter male Penduline Tit frequenting Plock Court, Longford, Gloucestershire.

Quickly booted up I took the short walk across the wetland to two small pools with plenty of bullrushes. There were about half a dozen birders, a single Stonechat but no Penduline Tit. I caught up with a couple of birders I knew before working my way down the perimter scrub line that I'd seen in reports it favoured. 

Finally there was a flicker of movement at the bottom of the reeds and thankfully the Penduline Tit revealed itself and showed really well for the duration of my visit. Feeding well on both pools. What was strange is how a Penduline Tit, that normally breeds in France, could find its way to a spot within a mile of the only previous record in the county. The bird was ringed with the number revealing it was ringing in the Channel Islands on 28th October. 

Despite a couple of reports on social media when the bird first arrived, everyone there was very well behaved and enjoying the masked bandit at a sensible distance.

Ladywalk visit

I wish Ladywalk was closer to home. A well managed reserve with a superb range of habitats, the only downside is the dreaded combination locks on the gate that never seem easy to navigate .

The car park feeders duly delivered a Willow Tit which was a bonus as I didn't see any last year. After entering the reserve I found a couple of trees had fallen on the perimter patchs. I did message the team and by late afternoon they had all been cleared … amazing !

A Sparrowhawk flew straight past me as I headed to the new hide infront of the feeders. The feeders were very busy with Great & Blue Tits, Robins, Greenfinches, Reed Nuntings, & Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Five Goosanders & a Marsh Tit were a first for the year whilst additional sightings included a Shelduck, 24 Wigeon, 5 Pochard, 25 Cormorant, 21 Tufties, 75 Lapwing & 2 Grey Herons.

Iceland Gull becomes pits latest addition

Iceland Gull taken in Birmingham last year

The monthly WeBS count had to be left to just Jon as my dose Chinese/Aussie flu has still left me with a chest infection I can't shake off. Typically Jon added a new bird to our site list when he picked up a 1st year Iceland Gull flying low over the main pit with Herring & Lesser Black-backs. It's a species he has been keen to add to sightings during his 16 years of going there. A cracking record. 

Other sightings included 4 Little Grebe, 4 Cormorants, 6 Grey Heron, 6 Mute Swans, 320 Greylag, 1 Shelduck, 10 Gadwall, 140 Teal, 37 Shoveler (site record), 3 Pochard, 65 Tufted Duck, 101 Coot, 3 Golden Plover, a Snipe, 4 Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, 24 Meadow Pipits, 1500 Rooks, 1000 Jackdaw.

Chris Lane added a Jay, Bullfinch, Grey Wagtail, a Siskin, 2 Shelduck, 13 Wigeon & 450 Lapwing on Friday.

At the south of the pits Andy had a male Crossbill in his garden taking us up to 75 for the year with some regular species still missing including Goosander, Little Egret, Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, Peregrine, all Owls, Water Rail, Kingfisher & Jay ! Hopefully better health & weather will see us pick those up in coming weeks.

Slimbridge sightings

 Pintail flock
 Love a Bewick
 Showy Water Rail
 Close up views from Willow Hide
Tack Piece
 Golden Plovers
Red-breasted Goose with Barnacle flock
After a week of being couped up due to the killer "Chinese flu" I needed to get out and try and see a few birds but also needed a location for a few pits stops as I'm carrying this pesky bug. Slimbridge never disappoints in the winter months so we headed down the M5 for a walk around the reserved. The Bewicks were all around the Rushy pen but there was an additional visitor, a Little Stint, on one of the islands. 

Two Water Rails were taking advantage of the dropped food around the feeders from the Willow hide. The Tack Piece was oozing with birds, many of them my first of the year of the species. Sightings included Curlew, Ruff, Dunlin, 100 White-fronted Geese, Redshank, Wigeon & Teal.

From the Holden Tower I added the Red-breasted Goose that had been around since last year, 3 Cranes & 180 Barnacles. I did check in at the south Lake where there was more of the same. After a quick coffee & over priced flapjack it was back up the M5 listening to Saints blow a 2-0 lead at Watford. 

Tardibigge Hawfinches

High & handsome
Long range shots only
File photo (RSPB)
St Bartholomew's Church
Grey Wagtail
 Much easier to photograph

This winter has seen Hawfinches take over from the Waxwings as the winter stars on the UK birding scene after record numbers have made it over from Europe following crop failures in Romania & Germany.

I called in to St Bartholomew's Church, a regular passing point on my bike circuit, to take in a short walk as I try to get back on my feet. These birds are the UK's biggest finch and have an eye catching large super beak. This particular flock of eight birds has taken up residence and were easily seen when I first arrived as they sat up high above the car park but then were very mobile, only allowing me to get a couple of distant shots with the camera.

Other sightings included a very showy Grey Wagtail, 2 Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Blue & Great Tits, a Buzzard, 6 Greenfinches, 2 Robins & several Goldcrests.

Other local sightings of Hawfinches include 20 at Bewdley, one at Grimley & 6 at Arley. If you have never seen one then get out there to witness them.

New Year down the pits

View of the main pit from farm
The main pit surrounds now give us no cover at all now
Golden Plover flock
Linnet flock
 Happy counting

Just as short blog as recovering from a shocking chest infection which has knocked me off my feet for a week. I've been down to the patch a couple of times and managed to record 59 species. The best finds were 440 Golden Plover, 210 Lapwing & 2 Jack Snipe.

It was excellent to find 7 Snipe that appear to have re-located to Pophills with three over wintering Green Sandpiper & a Common Sandpiper. 

Other sightings of note were 1200 Linnets up at Pitchill, 4 Redpoll, 2 drake Wigeon, 97 Teal, 4 Gadwall & 2 Meadow Pipits. 

Chris Lane picked up our local Merlin chasing a Skylark on Wednesday & also added two Shelduck to the patch year list. This now stands at 61. I have also updated the 2017 page on the blog which details the final year list of 139.