Monday, 20 May 2019

Three new year tick at the pits

Cuckoo on main pit
Garganey (Dennis Sinton)
Wood Sandpiper (Dennis Sinton)
Sunday count day
Wood Sandpiper (Dennis Sinton)

An amazing three patch year ticks for the pits last week in various circumstances. The first one was a Wood Sandpiper recognised by a photograph that Marion & Dennis sent me. Sadly with being away I didn't get the image until I'd returned home, but a great record for the site.

The second bird was a drake Garganey I found on Saturday when doing the morning shift with the Squire. Thankfully the bird was present enabling all the locals to see the duck. This was very much a new record for the site as we only tend to get Garganeys in the autumn.

The final bird was a Spotted Flycatcher picked up by Jon late on Sunday morning after a pretty uneventful session of birding. Sightings included :- 9 pairs of Little Grebe, 1 Cormorant, 10 Mute Swan (1 nest), 3 Greylag, 47 Canada Geese (3 broods), 12 Gadwall, 1 feamle Teal, 133 Mallard (13 broods), 1 drake Shoveler, 3 Pochard, 58 Tufted Duck, 14 Moorhen, 82 Coot, 2 pairs of Oystercatcher (1-2 young), 4 pairs of Little Ringed-Plover, a pair of Lapwing, 1 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 7 Black-headed Gull (1 nest), 25 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2 pairs of Cuckoo, 1 Sand Martin, a pair of Meadow Pipit, 1 male Yellow Wagtail, 2 singing Sedge Warbler, 29 singing Reed Warbler, brood of Long-tailed Tits, pair of Ravens, Sparrowhawk & a Spotted Flycatcher.

Annual Dorset & Devon birding

RSPB Ham Wall
Marsh Harrier
Common Redstart
Little Tern
Dartford Warbler
Common & Sandwich Tern
Male Stonechat
Female Stonechat
Love a good donkey
Sedge Warbler
Purple Sandpiper & Dunlin
Purple Sandpiper
Spotted Flycatcher
Black Hole Marsh

Black Hole Marsh

Gold Cap views
Dunlin on the Cobb
Coffee & cake time
Shelduck (Black Hole Marsh)

My annual spring migration break delivered it's normal great selection of birds in Dorset & East Devon. No lifers to reports but quality birds netherless & some super habitats.

I called in Ham Wall on the way down south where the sightings included Great White Egret, Bittern, Garden Warbler, Hobby & Marsh Harrier. On entering Dorset I headed to Lamberts Castle to check in on the returning Common Redstarts.

The Dartford Warblers took longer than normal to find at Aylesbeare Common unlike the Stonechats that were very vocal. I called in for my annual visit to the Donkey Santuary on the way back to Lyme Regis. 

Despite unfavourable winds I tried Portland for a day. Starting with a session of sea watching which the highlight was an Arctic Skua & 26 Common Scoter. Up at Ferrybridge, the Litte Terns showed very well & I also recorded a flock of Barnacle Goose, Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin & Knot. I then headed to Lodmoor where there was excellent birds including a Ring-necked Duck, Sandwich & Common Tern, Little Gull & a Bearded Tit.

At least two Nightjar were back on Trinity Hill although it was disappointing to see another car park closed. It didn't feel partiucally safe there in all honesty. The local Dippers could be observed at close quarters in Lyme Regis and the first juveniles had been seen.

A quiet wood in East Devon provided me with my first two Spotted Flycatchers of the year & a high tide visit to Black Hole Marsh returned a Whimbrel, 12 Blacl-tailed Godwits, a Little Egret & some very teritorial Shelduck.

My final day was spent around Lyme Regis where I had some great views of the Purple Sandpipers on the Cobb. A Dunlin & Turnstone were also present. A Fulmer & 2 Common Scoter passed also. I then headed to Gold Cap where I've wanted to walk for many years. There were many amazing views of the Jurassic coastline whilst sightings were limited to Whitethroats and Linnets.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

West Mids All dayer

View from west bank
Ringed Plover
Yellow Wagtail
It's been an interesting week at the pits with it being the West Midlands All Dayer on Saturday. That day had a strange start as Richard kindly text me from Morton Bagot that he had found a Temminck's Stint on the flash pools. Morton Bagot is actually closer to home than the pits and it was great to observe this wader as it migrates to the Tundra.

I did the all dayer in two parts due to sports taxi committments. It actually worked out well as I recorded three additional species on the evening session. The cold northerly winds didn't help but our score of 84 was very reasonable. 10 below our record.

Scores of the 23 sites were as follows :-

1) Ladywalk 102
2) Middleton Lakes 97
3) Brandston GP 90
4) Belvide 89
5) Grimley 89
=6) Upton Warren 84
=6) Salford Priors 84
=6) Chasewater 84
=6) Sandwell Valley 84
7) Marsh Lane 82
8) Doxey Marsh 70
9) Venus Pools 69
10) Saisy Farm NR 65
11) Earlswood 64
12) Morton Bagot 61
13) Elmdon Park 60
14) Avon Meadows 58
15) Halesowen patches - 57
16) Edgbastob Res - 55
17) Sutton Park - 51
18) Fens Pool / Satways 50
19) Trittiford 47

Our species recorded were a Hobby hawking above the main pit (first of the year), a Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover & 2 Yellow Wagtails. 

Black Tern Magic

Black Tern (Dennis Stinton)
Black Tern (Mark Clarke)
Swift (Mark Clarke)
Cuckoo (Dennis Stinton)
Black-tailed Godwit (Mark Clarke)
Common Tern (Dennis Stinton) 

Our site list moved nicely onto 122 this week with the additions of Black Tern & Greenshank. Black Terns are always an amazing bird to see every year. You forget how small & nimble they are to the large but still graceful Common Terns.

The midweek easterlie winds supported a real influx of movement across the midlands. Our counts included 6 Black Terns (8/5)   & 2 (9/5), 11 Dunlin (8/5), 2 Cuckoo, Redshank & 4 Common tern. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Annual Nightingale morning

With Mrs D away in Devon & the sports taxi not needed until the afternoon for basketball I headed to south Worcestershire to check out the returning Nightingales. 

I'm very pleased to report five singles males in fine voice. I was very lucky to get a great angle of a bird singing which I took some video footage. Other sightings included a Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler & a Cuckoo.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Baikal Teal kicks off March

I had to take Friday off work to attend a hospital appointment but thanks to the efficient NHS it gave me the afternoon to visit Cambridgeshire to see a reported Baikal Teal.

Confidence of the birds credentials appeared to gather face so I jumped in with the Squire to back this Siberian duck. The journey took around two hours, a very cold wind greeted us with news the bird had not been seen for an hour ! 

After a bit of head scratching the duck quest ended when it emerged on a bank with two Wigeon which it stayed quite loyal to whilst we watched the bird on and off for the next 45 minutes. We hung on for fellow birder Cliff Smith who was travelling behind us from Solihull. Thankfully he arrived just in time and saw the bird well as it edged east to finally disappear before the rain started. The conditions became very bleak and we were grateful we were heading home.

Other sightings included a Cuckoo, drake Garganey, Avocet, Wigeon, Teal & Little Egret.