Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Worcestershire Saturday double

Whoopers at the Moors
View from the Cuckoo hide
The Flashes

There was no stopping on Saturday after a morning pits visit and another enjoyable hour in Studley, I was kindly granted access to head over to Westwood Pool in Droitwich. Warden, Wayne opened up for us to see the Black-necked Grebe that had arrived the previous day. Some fantastic scope views revealed the Grebe was most likely an adult coming out of winter plumage. The light was lucent allowing us to see the birds very red eye and much brighter plumage than a juvenile would have. I did take a couple of shots but I didn't take them until the bird was more distant, hence quality not good enough. Many thanks to Terry & Wayne for sorting access.

After a delicious scone and cuppa at Webbs (Upton cafe closed) we headed down to the Flashes to see the first of the returning Avocets. Ten have returned so far, all favouring the deep water. There was quite a crowd gathering in the main hide hoping to see the reserves Barn Owl but we favoured to head over to the Moors where we were lucky to see five Whooper Swans who joined up with the resident Whooper. It was great to hear all six take off together, so fingers crossed they have a safe migration home. 

Salford Priors latest

Teal on Pophills
Pophills Orchard
Main Pit

A very average week down at pits with nothing much at all to blog about. The Treecreeper (seen in the Church yard) was finally added to the patch year list taking us to 83. 

Maximum counts for the week included a Green Sandpiper, 31 Shoveler, 8 Gadwall, 7 Pochard (central lagoon), 34 Shelduck, 86 Teal, a single Snipe, 150+ Chaffinch (Pophills orchard), Grey Wagtail, Green & Greater Spotted Woodpecker and 100 Linnets.

Mike Inskip reported good numbers of Fieldfare, Redwing and Chaffinch's at Cock Bevington. Thanks to all contributors.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Forest of Dean birding and bores

Cannop Pool
A real raptor day
 New Fancy View
Overgrown viewpoint
 Great Grey Shrike
Great Grey Shrike
 You looking at me
Nice with Chorizo
With the big freeze approaching fast you could certainly feel the easterly wind on Friday as I headed down to the Forest of Dean with fellow patch birder Chris Lane. I planned a circle of the forest giving us the best chance to see as many of local species as possible. 

First stop was Cannops Pools were the highlight was 36 Mandarin Ducks. I've had to work hard for these on occasions but this time we had no such worries as they were swimming around, resting on banks & also flying between the pools.

We didn't score with Crossbills at Parkend Church but did get stunning view of Goshawk emerging from the forest in front of us then circling giving us super views as two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming hard. Siskin were noted in most places during the morning. Two Hawfinches flew east behind the church and we saw another couple on the green when passing through.

It was then up to New Fancy View where there were a handful of birders looking for their year ticks. It was quiet for twenty minutes until I picked up two birds on the horizon of which one started to display to the pleasure of the audience of birders. Chris picked up a Peregrine & there were also Sparrowhawk & Common Buzzards.

I did warn Chris on the walk to Crabtree Hill I'd never seen this particular Great Grey Shrike on five previous visits and a number of photographers past us returning to the carpark with glum faces and telling us "no sign mate ".

There was no need to worry as the Butchers Bird perched up beautifully and stood out as we reached the brow of the hill. We watched him move around his terriotry and catching prey. The distant images I took do no justice to this stunning bird.

Back at the car park four Wild Boar were munching their way through any remaining grass looking to a late lunch. It was fabulous to see the boars at such close quarters but also a bit alarming that they appeared so tame. A morning of quality birding..............

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Studley Hawfinches

Late afternoon Thursday shot through the branches
Light made it difficult
Tried a couple of filters
Parking at the front of church
Saturday shot
 Now thats a beak ! (Saturday)
 Different type of angle
 Saturday Hawfinch
 Sunday Hawfinch
Sunday Hawfinch

Straight after work on Thursday I headed to Studley Church (B80 7AC), just a few miles from home, to see a small flock of Hawfinches Chris Lane had discovered in the morning.

After sharing the news with the patch clan, a maximum of 14 was recorded by Francis Peplow however the average tended to be around four or five. 

From entering the gate of the church at the front, take the patch on the right and view the tree in back left corner of the church yard. (Directly in line with the church). The birds are very flighty and do fly towards the new Studley Castle development. Good luck if you go. 

On Saturday I recorded at least six birds whilst Sunday was similar amount - perhaps one less.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Redditch Starlings

The Redditch Starlings are putting on their murmuration displays once again in the town centre. For anyone wanting to catch the action then the best place to watch the birds is the top of Car Park 2 of the Kingfisher Shopping Centre. Access is off Silver Street which you reach by the ring road. Its not the biggest display this year but still an awesome sight & sound.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Kites & finches

Red Kite over head
Red Kite chasing off the corvids
Little Grebe 
Fallow Deer
Main Pit island ready for spring
Yellowhammer in great voice
View of main pit from orchards
More Yellowhammers

Two patch visits this week as I managed to drop in on the way home from Evesham after picking up my international driving licence for an upcoming trip. On arrival I found Mike Inskip by Pophills & then found Chris Lane walking towards me on the lane down from Dunnington.

Before I reached the pits I found our returning pair of Red Kites to the east of pits. I quickly jumped out the car to watch the birds closely above me. With Red Kites duly added to the patch year list we added another on the main pit where a female Goosander was resting on the Oystercatcher island. The rest of the wildfowl numbers were very quiet. 

I then headed up to the orchards with Chris where there were still good numbers of Fieldfare & a handful of Fallow Deer before us on the path. Chris had seen a Brambling an hour before but as the light faded we had to be happy with an excellent flock of Chaffinches. 

It was a foggy start on Sunday but thankfully it burnt off quickly making it quite a reasonable morning. I met up with Jon as planned before we started our circuit. In the area where the main bund stood a flash has developed which seems to be attracting the Lapwing and our Green Sandpiper. This area may be profitable come the spring if the water level is maintained. A single drake Wigeon was joined by another good flock of teal on Pophills. Over at the main pit highlights included 3 Shelduck, 3 Pochard (1 extra on central lagoon), 25 Lapwing and an Oystercatcher.

Jon headed to check the southern end of the pits whilst I headed up the orchard to find the finch flock. A Kestrel kindly flushed their position feeding on the rough crop so I set up my scope and started working my way through the flock. The Yellowhammers & Reed Buntings were both singing which is always a pleasure. The flocks approximate numbers were 250 Chaffinch, 20 Reed Bunting, 40 Yellowhammer, 30 Linnet, 5 Greenfinch and a pair of Bramblings. 

Other sightings included 7 Little Grebe, 7 Cormorant, 3 Grey Heron, pair of Mute Swan, 310 Greylag, 28 Canada Geese, 13 Gadwall, 115 Teal, 310 Mallard, 21 Shoveler, 87 Tufted Duck, 6 Moorhen, 104 Coot, a Snipe, Sparrowhawk, 40 Black-headed Gulls,2 Buzzard, Great Spotted & Green Woodpecker, Grey & Pied Wagtail, 4 singing Song Thrushes, a Mistle Thrush and a pair of Raven.

We also recorded 4 Fallow deer, 8 Roe Deer & 4 Brown Hare. 

East Midlands Birding

Black-throated Diver
Albert Lake
Plenty of birds on the tip
Black Swan
Salamon Course
Spotted Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Mistle Thrush
Long-tailed Duck 

A very different local for birding

The reported Spotted Sandpiper in Nottinghamshire has been calling me since it first landed as my previous sightings of the species had been very average. After doing the patch on Thursday I thought I'd excuse myself a trip up the M42 to see this north american wader.

After reaching the turning for Twycross I made a last minute decision of heading for Albert Village lake as I thought it was fairly close to motorway. The gamble proved spot on as I found a car park close by and walked down to this well known gulling hotspot. I found a first winter Caspian Gull it was the juvenile Black-throated Diver that I wanted to see. Whilst the views were the better than the ones I'd experienced off the east coast of Norfolk the light was still poor only allowing for poor record shots. Also present were good numbers of Great Crested Grebes and two Oystercatcher.

Holme Pierpoint, the national waterspout centre, was another forty five minutes away however some good parking tips enabled me to park in the perfect spot. The first bird to greet me was a Black Swan a bird I rarely come across so after a quick photo it was off to the Salmon Course to find the Spotted Sandpiper. The course was very busy with river rafters but no bird and no birders, perhaps this wasn't the right place. When reaching the bottom of the course I saw a tog walking round so I knew I was close but still no bird. I then bumped into two brothers I'd met in Scilly who hand't seen the bird either and then suddenly I heard a call and the bird flew in from our right to land on the grass banking. About six of us enjoyed some fantastic views of this little wader. It was interesting to note the wing bar difference to our Common Sandpiper when in flight.

To round off a super morning I walked down the rowing pit to see the reported Long-tailed Duck which was very confiding. I sat down and watched the bird diving for food at close quarters. The bird did appear to have some very thin type of fishing line from the left side of it's mouth. Let's hope it doesn't impede this super looking first winter drake. 

The journey home went very smoothly listening to the Saints clinch a  FA Cup Quarter Final spot after beating the Albion for the third time this season.