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. 

Thursday, 22 November 2018

First thoughts of winter on recovery weekend

Goldeneye (Mark Clarke)
Jon on patrol
Canada Geese leaving main pit
Reed Bunting
Red Kite
Meadow Pipit
After a very big day & night out in Cheltenham I was in no condition to be doing my normal Saturday shift. I used the day to get myself back to normal and did a full audit on Sunday with Jon.

As I passed through Wheatley, 2 Red Kites were showing nicely but the light wasn't very good so I carried on down to the pits. 

Best birds of the day were an adult male Merlin, 2 Dunlin & a Golden Plover. My personal favourites were a flock of Fieldfare that were in the Marsh Farm orchard. Always a sign winter is around the corner. 

Counts included :- 8 Little Grebe, 78 Cormorant, 4 Grey Heron, 20 Mute Swan, 680 Greylag, 370 Canada Geese, 31 Wigeon, 10 gadwall, 105 Teal, 280 Mallard, 12 Shoveler, 155 Coot, 33 Lapwing, 1 Snipe, 70 LBBG, 30 Herring Gull, 7 Common Gull, 700 Wood Pigeon, 3 Green Woodpecker, 35 Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, 60 Carrion Crow, 2 Raven, 30 Goldfinch, 40 Siskin (in alders on souther boundary). Late Peacock & Common Darter.

I picked up a male Stonechat in an unusual spot which rounded the day off nicely.

Midweek 2 Goldeneyes were recorded by a number of the team whilst a Water Rail was recorded on edge of river at Broom.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Can't beat a bit of Devon

Labrador Bay
Cirl Bunting
Rainbow on arrival
The Cirl Bunting were very camera shy
Struggling to get a shot
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
Armistice Day procession
Family selfie
Great place to watch the march
Purple Sandpiper
Turnstone on the breakwater

We decided to head down the M5 on Saturday to catch up with the outlaws in Devon. The weekend would be heavy in cakes and coffee but also grabbed a couple of sessions of birds between the cake eating.

On Saturday we walked across Exmouth beach opposite Dawlish Warren and recorded the local species of Oystercatchers, Shags, Cormorant, Curlew but nothing out of the ordinary. I've had previous success around Exmouth Sailing Club with Black Redstarts and I was pleased to find two birds over wintering despite the huge housing development.

On Sunday, we headed to Labrador Bay to see the impressive Cirl Buntings. I've only seen them once previously further down the coast. This small reserve is now managed by the RSPB and with their careful managements the Buntings have flourished. There are now 20 pairs doing well here whilst the overall picture is also looking healthy with over 800 pairs in the UK.

It didn't take us long to track them down but getting a clear photographic opportunity took much longer. If you are heading that way prepare for some steep and uneven walking. 

From there we had a couple of hours in Brixham to take in the Armistice Day procession & two minutes silence. It was excellent to see so many people recognises what the day means and showing their support.

We walked along the breakwater & recorded a Red-throated Diver, 5 Turnstones and 2 Purple Sandpiper before retreating for lunch followed by the drive home. 

Annual record falls at pits

Needing one bird to level our annual record & two to beat it, our regular watching produced the goods by finding two year ticks.

Chris Lane found a female Goldeneye on the main pit on Wednesday & Mike Inskip flushed a Woodcock on Saturday taking us to 142 species of the year.

Jon's Sunday count included :- 7 Little Grebe, 12 Cormorant, 1 Liitle Egret (Pophills), 4 Gey Heron, 20 Mute Swan, 680 Greylag Geese (County record), 260 Canada Geese, 10 Gadwall, 77 Teal, 245 Mallard, 9 Shoveler, 37 Tufted Duck, 133 Coot, 63 Lapwing, 1 Green Sandpiper, 7 Common Gull, 140 LBBG, 45 Herring Gull, 40 Stock Dove, 1 Little Owl, 35 Skylark, 20 Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, 110 Fielfare flying south, 1 Raven, 3 Brambling, 3 Redpoll & a late Common Darter. 

Monday, 12 November 2018

Pied Wheatear, just in time on Meols, Cheshire

Video footage taken
Pied Wheatear
Concept shot of how close bird was
Sometimes even closer
Staring at the audience
It was great to see wind blow the feathers of our eastern visitor
Sea Wall & Pied Wheatear
Look at those tail feathers
Side on shot
Down on Station road
Thumbs up for a good day
Rounded off with a drop of the good stuff

It's certainly been an excellent Autumn for seeing an amazing variation of birds. I was a tad disappointed that the first winter Pied Wheatear found at the top of the Wirral wasn't twitchable on the Sunday as it was too late to get there with it getting dark much earlier. The chances of it sticking seemed limited however as the days past the bird appeared to be quite settled giving us hope we may be able to see it. I had a crazy week with photography shoots at work which was to be followed by a weekend away in Devon, going Friday was the only real option.

We waited for news before setting out in the Rollymobile with Chris & the Squire. Heading to the North West is never easy but despite a few 50 mph limits we made good time. As we turned onto the sea front in the car, we could actually see the bird on the sea wall. That's definitely the first lifer I've recorded from the car.

This species of Wheatear breeds on high plateaus in eastern europe and migrates to east Africa over Jordan generally. I'm sure it got quite a shock when it heard the local scouse accents. Two locals on horses stopped and shouted "what the el is that" in their thick accents to offer some humour to the cold biting wind. How these birds make such journeys is quite unbelievable, this specices only weighs 16-20 grammes. 

The bird showed ridiculously well and very often seemed to take extra interest in looking at its admirers when someone else new arrived. Apparently the previous day the bird had been fed meal worms but there was no evidence of this during our visit.

Since I've been interested in rarer birds I can only remember one of these bird being twitchable & that was a good number of years ago, so we were all very pleased to connect successfully. The timing of our visit couldn't have been any better as the bird departed that evening to leave many weekend twitchers disappointed.

We headed down to RSPB Burton Mere where we added a few species on the day list including Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Stonechat, Black-tailed Godwit, Great White Egret but with the weather closing in and the threat of Friday traffic he headed off back down the M6 having had a very good day indeed. 

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Great White Egret steals the show

Great White Egret (Dennis Stinton)
                                        Great White Egret (Dennis Stinton)
 Great White Egret (Dennis Stinton)
                                        Great White Egret (Dennis Stinton)
 Great White Egret (Dennis Stinton)
 Greylag flock
 Fallow Deer
Roe Deer
This blog will summarise sightings over the last two weeks. It will be a brief blog as I wasn't present until Tuesday 30th October. (Also posted late as forget to publish)

22nd October - female Ring Ouzel flushed from scrub on south side of Pophills. 1 Little Egret, female Merlin, 2 juvenile Peregrines, Water Rail, 3 Green Sandpiper, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls, Stonechat (Pophills), and a Brambling. (Jon Bowley) 

27th October - 2 Jack Snipe feeding on edge of reeds (Pophills), adult Yellow-legged Gull, Peregrine, Pochard, 4 Wigeon, 15 Shoveler, 9 Gadwall, 250 Lapwing and 140 Greenfinch. (Chris Lane)

28th October - 4 Whooper Swans over and two Otters on Pophills. (Ann & Noel) 

29th October - Great White Egret flew from River Arrow over to Pophills. Tawny Owl calling from plantation, Little Egret (Dennis & Marion Stinton) 
2 Green Sandpipers, 9 Teal, 3 Snipe, 2 Jack Snipe (Pophills) (Paul Hands / Mike Inskip)

30th October - 2 Wigeon, 14 Shoveler, 400 Greylag with domestic Snow Goose (main pit), 3 Snipe & Green Sandpiper (Pophills) (N Duggan)

The Ring Ouzel was our 139th species of the year & the Whoopers were 140th. Now just one away from equally the record. Species we still missing are Grey Partridge, Great Black-backed Gull, Scaup, Goldeneye, Turnstone & Rock Pipit, all of which have been annually recorded.