Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Ticking along nicely

                           Grasshopper Warbler(one of my fav pics ever taken)
                                      Second Gropper of the morning
                                                 Common Terns
                                                Distant Little Gull
                                             I just liked this photo
                                                    Little Gull
                                              Video montage
                                                Wood Sandpiper
                                             Arty Wood Sandpiper
                                  Bonaparte's Gull(taken from footpath)
                     Close up taken by John Belsey from inside the reserve

There has been some nice birds to be seen over the last week all within twenty miles of home in a range of habitats. This started on the previous Monday when I found two Grasshoper Warblers at Morgrove Coppice. On Saturday I nipped over to Earlswood to see my first Little Gull & Common Terns of the year. Then after being battered by the wind all Saturday afternoon at the cricket I headed for a bit of cover on Sunday for my annual Nightingale pilgrimage. On the way back home I called in at Clifton where I enjoyed great views of a Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Wheatear & 20+ Yellow Wagtail. A Wood Sandpiper at Grimley rounded the morning off nicely. 

On Tuesday, John Belsey discovered a Bonaparte's Gull at Upton Warren which I visited on my lunch break becoming my 147th species of the year.

Not quite time for the bunting

          Saturday cricket is back - Gussy sending this into church yard for six
                                        Two Common Sandpipers
                          Large Red Damselfly - always the first to emerge
                                                 Yellow Wagtail
                               Main pit showing worrying willow growth

Well it's been an interesting couple of weeks at the pits with our year list rising from 97 to a very reasonable 107. Most of our additions were predictable however two certainly were not. Those additions as follows Reed & Sedge Warbler, Hobby, Common Whitethroat (18/4), Redstart (19/4 singing male), Cuckoo (22/4), Swift (24/4), Sandwich Tern (22/4) & LITTLE BUNTING (25/4).

I've been going to the pits most days and but some days I just need a change of routine and bird somewhere I can't normally go before work. So I had a lovely day in south Worcestershire which was somewhat ruined when I got a call from Jon saying there was a mega at the pits. Typical !

Details of Jons news :

A LITTLE BUNTING - an adult in summer plumage, was flushed from long grass at the back of the main pit towards the end (nearest the old works) - it flew into the hedge and began calling "tick...tick". Really MEGA view of it on top (the best I've had of this bird, including in China, as they are usually quite skulky). It then dropped down into the hedge and I followed it north for about 10m or so, as it flitted around warbler style within it. I lost it when it moved down on the other side of the hedge and out of view - so could be feeding on the grass track on that side. As no one else had arrived by 1015 (and my phone battery dead - sorry) I walked back along the path but no sign, but could still be in the field margin on the other side.

We organised a small team to meet at 3.30pm where we had a good search for 2 hours without luck. We were all disappointed.

Also at the pits on Sunday (from 0735 onwards): 7 pairs of Little Grebe now, 7 Cormorant, 2 Grey Heron, 17 Mute Swan and 2 nests, 13 Greylags, 20 Canada Geese, 3 pairs of Gadwall, 3 broods of Mallard out, 111 Tufted Duck, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrels, 1 very pale adult Peregrine flew NW, 1 Oystercatcher flew over, 2 pairs of Little Ringed Plover, 5 LBB Gull, 1 Herring Gull, 1 male Cuckoo (showing well on ground at main pit), 5 Swifts, 70 Sand Martins, 50 Swallows, 70 House Martins, 1 Meadow Pipit, 5 Yellow Wagtails, 2 male Wheatears, 2 singing Cetti's Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler heard at main pit, 7 Sedge Warbler, 14 Reed Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, lots of Common Whitethroat, 2 Ravens, 1 Siskin flew north and all the usual stuff.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Full house in Wyre Forest

                                                 Pied Flycatcher
                                                Common Redstart
                                                  Pied Flycatcher
                                                 Pied Flycatcher
                                                Speckled Wood
                                                 Wood Warbler

The Wyre Forest is a local firm favourite for a days birding and I finally took a days leave to have an extended visit on Friday. The 5 1/2 hour session was a genuine pleasure from start to finish. It's rare that you manage to see all the species you want to but on Friday it was a full house. My sightings highlights were 2 Wood Warbler, 5 Pied Flycatcher, 6 Tree Pipt, 1 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Dipper, Mandarin, Redpoll and Redstart. 

Home working, home mothing

                                              Hebrew Character
                                          Early Grey (April 2021)
                                                 Early Thorn

                                                  Emperor Moth

Dave Hill from our local nature group very kindly built me a moth trap for the garden. With home working staying for the short term, I thought I'd take advantage of extra time at home and see what I would get within my own garden. I have absolutley no experience or knowledge in this field however every day is a school day. The above photos are my early results.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Cricket, butterflies & Grimley

                                       Cattle Egret (Paul Griffiths)
                                           Holly Blue (Feckenham)
                                    Green-veined White (Feckenham)
                                           Back on the boundary
                                       Grimley with Paul & Lynne
                                          Goldcrest (Feckenham)

Paul & Lynne, from Evesham, joined me on Saturday for a spring walk around Grimley on the banks of the River Severn. The weather couldn’t have been better for the duration of the walk. We recorded 62 species during the four mile circuit of which the highlights were a Cattle Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Red Kite and nice selection of Warblers including the first Reed & Sedge, Blackcap, Chiffchaff & Cetti’s. We rounded off a wonderful morning with a coffee & a slice of home made lemon cake.

I was back on the boundary in the afternoon to witness an easy 10 wicket win. I had my normal walk around the church yard where I finally took my first couple of butterfly photographs of the year. When back in my seat a couple of Orange-tips bombed past taking me to a measly six butterflies for the year. I'm so looking forward to some time off in May.  

I will update the pits sightings next week.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Channel Wagtail & nervous nineties

                                               Channel Wagtail
                                           Curlew (Dennis Sinton)
                                                 Channel Wagtail
                                 Common Sandpiper & Yellow Wagtail
                                              Common Sandpiper
                                                Yellow Wagtail
Quite an interesting week at the pits despite the weather being far from ideal with a northerly wind blowing. There have been four new species observed which are House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Curlew & Common Sandpiper.

Curlews have been very difficult to observe due to the change of habitat so it was a treat that Rob, Dennis & Marion all got a midweek sighting. House Martin numbers are still low but there are good numbers of Sand Martin & Swallow now coming through. 

On Sunday I teamed up with Jon for a regular morning circuit. It was a very cold morning but we were quite hopeful. A Blackcap burst into song as we left the cars which was a promising start but in all honesty it was very quiet. The old workings had a female Wheatear & there was the first of our five LRP we recorded.  The white/albino Reed Bunting was in the reeds in the south lagoons & there were more Blackcaps.

The action didn't pick up until we got back to the main pit where the newly arrived Common Sandpiper was on the south edge feeding with four Yellow Wagtails. On closer inspection one of Wagtails was a Channel wagtail. Views were restricted as it was right of a willow but I tried to get a couple of record shots. The birds flew towards the northern end but we couldn't find the Channel Wagtail again. 

In northern France, there is an 'intergrade zone' where Blue-headed and Yellow Wagtails regularly interbreed. The offspring of such pairings are variable in appearance, but many individuals show a head pattern that resembles a washed-out Blue-headed, with a paler powder-blue head and often more extensive white in the supercilium, ear-coverts and throat. These intergrades are colloquially known as 'Channel Wagtail'. They are the commonest form of Blue-headed to occur in many northern areas of Britain. (BirdGuides)

This puts the site list on to a 97 species for the year.

White-throated Sparrow keeps yankie run going

 White-throated Sparrow
 What a stunner
                                                                  Super yank
                                                         Picnic table of dreams
                                                                      Barcombe Cross

After a very difficult week at work I was intrigued that a White-throated Sparrow was reported again in East Sussex. This bird was reported during the lock-down period at an undisclosed site so I'd presumed it was going to be one that had come & gone, there will always be another. Clicking on Twitter on Friday evening this North American Sparrow was showing well on an area of deck near some allotments in the village of Barcombe Cross. 

There was early positive news on Saturday so it was full steam ahead with the plan. The journey was very smooth however it was good to dodge a two lane closure on the M40. Safetly parked up in the village, the walk was only five minutes across the recreation grounds cricket pitch to the allotments. There was around a dozen birders present waiting for this mega yankee.

We stood socially distanced on a slope looking down towards a picnic table where the bird had been seen a regular intervals. The locals had put some seed down in this area hoping the draw the bird to feed. As we waited for the star attraction a Cuckoo starting calling whilst a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming.  

After thirty minutes a very distintive & beautiful head appeared poking over a bracken pile to the right of the decking. Then this stunning individual jumped onto the decking to give some fantastic views. The bird showed fantastically well skipping around taking advantage of the seed. The pattern of the feathers of the birds back & wing were just stunning. We got two sessions of seeing the bird, with the first one being much the better before we headed home.