Sunday, 28 April 2019

South west double up with Citrine Wagtail & Alpine Swift

Field where female was in residence
Female Citrine Wagtail
Male Citrine Wagtail
Male Citrine Wagtail
Stormy skies in Gloucestershire
Best Alpine Swift image I could get

Its been a long time coming but finally a bird that was within a twitchable distance was discoved last Wednesday at Pilning Wetland in Gloucestershire. I didn't fancy my chances on Wednesday so I left it until the following afternoon, leaving work at 3pm and heading down the M5. It was just a five minute walk from New Passage to the wetland where there were around twenty birders present. 

Apparently this female Citrine Wagtail had been difficult to see at times but thankfully I had some fantastic scope views inside a minute. The bird was preening and then almost falling asleep for five minutes before it sprung into a feeding frenzy working across the unturned turf. Also inside the field was a Blue-headed Wagtail, 6 Yellow and a number of Pied Wagtails.

Suddenly a call came from our right that a birder had found another Citrine Wagtail, this time it was a male Citrine showing really well on the scape bank nearest the path. Absolutley stunning and very enjoyable. 

Just before I thought about leaving an Alpine Swift was reported at Ham Wall. A very difficult bird to see when based in the midlands. After a bit of encourgagement from Cliff Smith on the phone I was Somerset bound. I just needed to hope the Swift hung on in the same location for an hour.

Thankfully, it did stick and the Alpine Swift was flying around the railway bridge showing extremely well. The long winged Swift showed a very distinictive white throat & belly which was easy to pick out from the Common Swifts. These stunning Swifts breed in Africa and are a rare but annual visitor to the UK.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Salford Priors weekly round up

Video summary

Brown Hare
Song Thrush
Black-tailed Godwits
Black-tailed Godwits
Habitat looking good for waders
Squire on migration watch
Red Kite

An extended Easter break gave me plenty of opportunity to visit the pits. It's interesting to note how the arrival dates of the migrants can vary from Abbots Salford despite them being a stone throw apart.

Particular birds of note were the Whimbrel, Common Redstart (that I found by Pophills gate), Black-tailed Godwits and the singing Corn Bunting.

12/4 1st Common Sandpiper, female Pochard, 5 Sand Martin
14/4 2 Common Sandpiper, Corn Bunting, 5 LRP, Yellow Wagtail, Red Kite, 2 Willow Warbler, Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Swallow, House Martin & Sand Martin
15/4 Common male Redstart, 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 Red Kite, 18 LBBG, 4 Swallow, 3 Sand Martin
17/4 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper, 5 Dunlin, 2 Shelduck, 2 Sand Martin
Abbots - Common tern, Common & lesser WT
18/4 2 Curlew, 3 Dunlin, Corn Bunting, 5 Shelduck, 6 Lapwing, 7 LRP, 6 Lapwing, Red Kite
19/4 Reed Warbler - new, Green & Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin, Lesser Whitethroat
Abbots 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Common & 1 Lesser Whitethroat
21/4 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 16 Little Grebe, 3 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, 10 Mute Swan, 16 Greylag, 45 Canada Geese, 4 Shelduck, 23 gadwall, 11 Teal, 95 Mallard (3 broods0, 5 Shoveler, 99 Tufted, female Goosander, 14 Moorhen, 102 Coot, 2 Oyster, 8 LRP, Green Sand, Common Sand, 5 BHG, 11 LBBG, 1 herring, 1 Cuckoo, small numbers of Sand Martin & House Martins, 10 Meadow Pipits,  Yellow Wags , 1 Sedge Warbler, 10 Reed Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Common Whitethroat, 1 Willow Warbler , 2 Jays, 2 Ravens, 2 Yellowhammer, 11 pairs Reed Bunting & a Stoat.
22/4 No changes

Many thanks to everyone who submitted sighting. We did really well with everyone chipping in.

Week off local birding


Little Egret (Studley)
Common Redstart (Wyre Forest)
Pied Flycatcher (Wyre Forest)
Pied Flycatcher (Wyre Forest)
Female Pied Flycather (Wyre Forest)
Felix Dennis
Out and about
Little Owl (Studley)
Whinchat (Bredon Hill)
Bredon Hill lunch
Lesser Whitethroat (Abbots Salford)
Little Owl (Studley)
Tree Pipit (Bredon Hill)
Sand Martin (Ladywalk)
Bredon Hill
Ring Ouzel (Bredon Hill)
Wood Sandpiper (Ladywalk)
As well as flogging the gravel pits to bits whilst being on leave I visited a number of local habitats to observe the returning migrants.

I started off at Grimley on my way to the Birders Store in Worcester to upgrade my telescope. There has been some good passage of Yellow Wagtails but I had to cope with a single among the cattle in the distance. I also noted a Common Sandpiper, 5 Redshank & Dunlin. There were big numbers of Sand Martins feeding above the main pit.

I always enjoy to have a yomp around Studley along the river. The sunshine made it very pleasant. Best bird was a Little Owl, a Little Egret and my first brood of Mallard. On the evening Mark and I headed out to Dorsington where we caught up with a Short-eared Owl.

I visited the Wyre Forest twice. The second visit was more productive in terms of birds as the female migrants had also arrived. I was shocked to hear a Wood Warbler, I thought this could be another week away. Observations included a Grey Wagtail, 3 Redstart, many Tree Pipits (most I'd ever seen there, Cuckoo and 3 Pied Flycatchers looking for suitable nest boxes.

On Easter Sunday, I walked Bredon Hill with the family. With limited viewing due to time I was really pleased to find 2 Whinchat perched high which were my first of the year. Other sightings included 2 Ring Ouzel, 3 Willow Warbler, many Tree Pipits, Common & Lesser Whitethroats. 

On my final day off we headed to West Midland Bird Club's Ladywalk Nature Reserve (thankfully no combination exit issues this time) where star attraction was a Wood Sandpiper. On entering the hide we were told that the Wood Sandpiper had gone into the reeds and not been seen for 30 minutes. It took me five minutes to find the bird on the edge of one of the islands ! I recorded my first Garden Warbler of the year and also noted Cuckoo, Lesser Whitethroats & Sand Martins.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Grasshopper Warbler reels at the Bagot

I usually only go to Morton Bagot a few times a year and yet I've been twice this week. Richard Harbird kindly let me know that a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling from the reed bed at Netherstead. This fantastic bird took to reeling on the fence posts rather then reel secretley hidden in the reeds like the species usually do.

We returned the following evening to hear the bird again. This time he reeled away from inside the reed bed and showed very briefly but never coming out in the open. 

Monday, 15 April 2019

Black-necked Grebe is star of the week at the pits


 Black-necked Grebe (Dennis Sinton)
Arctic Tern (Dennis Sinton)
 Litte-ringed Plover
 Litte-ringed Plover
 Local heard
Stunning individual
Steady easterly winds continued this week which certainly didn't assist migrating birds. This didn't stop us having a good week though. Find of the week was on Tuesday, when Rob Evans found the pit's third Black-necked Grebe in summer plumage. The bird was very active and dived almost continuously. I was on a late shift at work so didn't arrive until 6.30pm but it was great that all our regulars plus many more all connected. Chris Lane picked up two Arctic Terns when watching the Grebe giving us another good annual record. This was followed by Mike Inskip who flushed a Tawny Owl from the plantation.

On Wednesday, Common Whitethroat (P Hands) & Grey Partridge (M Clarke) were added to the year list. A flock of 20 Siskin (Ed Betteridge) were picked up at Hillers and a Ringed Plover (P Hands) was on the A46 flash.

Thursday started a run of twelve days off work for myself and the first morning resulted in a Willow Warbler singing on the railway line. This increased to three on Sunday. We now have at least 5 Little Ringed Plovers around the site, it's interesting to see how they have adapted quickly to some of the new habitats created as part of the restoration.

Our first Common Sandpiper arrived on Friday morning and this increased to two on Sunday. A female Pochard was on the main pit also on Thursday, Sand Martins continued to trickle through despite the conditions.

On Sunday, myself and Jon wrapped up a good week when we found a singing Corn Bunting (undisclosed location) which was another first of the year followed by a Yellow Wagtail going over late in the morning. Other birds recorded were 19 Shoveler, 2 Swallow, a House Martin, Peregrine, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, 6 Raven and first summer Yellow-legged Gull.

The site list now sits on 108 for the year.

Rouzels closer to home

Warwickshire stars with Pat Murphy
The first day of my extended Easter break resulted in some extra birding close to Morton Bagot thanks to a text from Richard Harbird. I'd just got home from the pits when the text landed. I was there inside ten minutes to see this supurb pair of Ring Ouzels that were feeding well in one of the horse paddocks. After Richard left, fellow pitter Mark & Foxy joined me where a female Wheatear was also showing well the the field.

The new professionsl cricket season also commenced on Thursday & I headed to Edgbaston for the evening to see the Warwickshire stars from 1994 who won the remarkable treble followed by the double the following season. The club season commences on Saturday so I will be recording sightings from the boundary as usual

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Migrants kinda weekend

The pits year list has limped to 101 with the additions of 2 Redshank & a House Martin. Little Gulls have been appearing all over the local area but sadly no luck at the pits despite some top searching efforts by all the team.

Over the weekend I visited Earslwood & Bredon Hill in addition to daily visits to the pits.  Earlswood by pure luck had a Common Redstart in a horse paddock by the Red Lion pub, whilst walking around the lakes we found 2 Goosander & a male Pochard. 

On Sunday, I headed up Bredon Hill where after a good deal of searching myself & Francis Peplow enjoyed an stunning hour of watching a male Ring Ouzel at close quarters. Other sightings included several Yellowhammers, Skylark,a single Common Redstart, 2 Buzzard & a Red Kite.