Friday, 30 August 2013

Third Time Lucky

The last day of my holiday and I planned to do something a bit further afield. A Spotted Crake had been reported on Thursday evening at Netherfield Lagoons in Nottingham. Sunrise today found me stood on the banks of the Lagoons scanning the reedbeds.

I didn't know the area at all, so i was pleased that as light values increased I noticed two other birders were already there. I hoped they were locals and had more idea than i did of the birds favoured areas. I was in luck, and by the time I got round to their viewing area, they had just seen this very elusive bird and it was now skulking in the very dense reed beds again.

About 15 minutes later, it again appeared. It was very difficult to give directions to each other as there were no real landmarks, just an extensive bed of reeds. So, once one of us was on it, we looked through each others scopes. All in all, I saw it three times. Two brief glimpses through other birders scopes, and one great view through my own. The Crake came just clear of the reeds, flapped its wings, raising itself off the water about a foot, then retreated back into the reeds.

What I found very interesting, was the sheer speed of this bird when it ran, very quick! This is my third attempt at Spotted Crake, so I was very pleased with this sighting.

All views were at distance and brief, so I didn't manage a picture, but I saw what I went to see, and that's what it's all about.

Spotted Crake


The lagoons are an interesting place and somewhere I will visit again.

The Spotted Crake was resident in the far reed beds.

The far end of the Slurry Lagoon


So, another lifer to end what has been a very enjoyable break. It will make returning to work on Monday a little more bearable.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

RSPB Middleton

I decided to visit RSPB Middleton this morning after reports of four Whinchat yesterday. I spent a few hours at the reserve, but was unable to locate any Whinchat today. I also had a scan about for Black Tern, none of those about this morning either. I was however treated to the spectacular sight of a Peregrine hunting over the Jubilee Wetlands.

I had a good wander around the reserve. Things have changed since my last visit. There are now signs in the car park detailing charges for non members.

Also signs stating dogs are welcome in certain areas of the reserve as long as they are on a lead, under control, and any fouling cleaned up. Like other RSPB reserves, dogs are NOT allowed in certain more sensitive areas of the reserve. Signposts detail this reasonably well.

Once I reached the wetland area of the reserve, just past Fishers Mill I noticed the Willow Screens looking out over the Jubilee Wetlands now have sides added to them.

I understand the path leading from this first screen going East to West towards the second Willow Screen will be closed at certain times of year. It is open for access between the hides at the moment.

While I was there today, several small mixed Canada, Greylag skeins of geese dropped in. Probably amounting to about 200 geese in total.

The view over Jubilee Wetlands.

There is also a considerable amount of fencing off being carried out all over the wetland area.

I walked up to the North Pit. More new fencing here.

Entrance to North Pit

Looking East towards Dosthill from here, you can see the new hide. Now complete.

I walked along the path towards the hide to check it out.

Entrance to the hide


On getting to the door of the hide, I discovered a combination lock.

The problem I had was, I have no idea what the combination is? I asked a couple of other birders, they didn't know either. So, if you are planning a visit and wish to use the hide, perhaps contact RSPB Middleton prior to your visit to get the code.

There are Willow screens either side of the hide. I peeped over them to look at the view from what looks like a top quality hide. I look forward to seeing inside.

View from Hide

I do like RSPB Middleton. I feel it has real potential. It does however still have some problems that need addressing.

1. There still seems no way of controlling the amount of water/exposed mud. Particularly important as this area floods quite quickly in times of heavy rainfall and holds the water.

2. The long awaited bridge to span the river Tame and join both sides of the reserve together is still conspicuous by its absence.

I'm sure these issues are being addressed with some priority, and I hope satisfactory outcomes are soon reached.

My time at RSPB Middleton this morning was as always enjoyable, and I will finish with a few snaps I took along the way.

Grey Heron



Sunday, 25 August 2013

In the Shire

Been staying within Staffordshire and keeping an eye on what is dropping in as Autumn migration gets underway. The Moors are looking good, and I have now seen a Hobby over there twice. After the corn had been harvested, i also encountered two Hares. Always nice to see.

Hare on the Moors

An Otter was also sighted by Pete while fishing the river Anker, I have seen them here myself, but its been a while.

Viewing Downstream

An influx of Black Terns had me heading to Blithfield Reservoir, a place that is really getting under my skin. I really enjoy birding there. I managed to view the Black Tern from the Causeway.


Next Morning, walking around the Dosthill side of the RSPB Middleton reserve, Jon and I encountered a much more local Black Tern.


Sunday afternoon again saw me heading to Blithfeld looking for the reported Bar-Tailed Godwit that had been seen in Blythe Bay. Again, I was in luck and found the bird. It seemed to have a injury to its right leg and didn't want to put it to the ground. This caused it to flap its wings to keep balance as it moved, exposing its rump and giving no doubt it was indeed a Bar Tailed Godwit. It fed along the far bank marginal mud and even took flight and returned. Despite its injury, it seemed healthy enough.


On my return walk to the car, I stumbled upon a pair of Spotted Flycatchers. I attempted some pictures.

Without getting too close, I first took pictures through my GS52 ED Scope using my iPhone. About 40 yards away.

iPhone through GS52 Scope. 40 Yards

Then, I crept a little closer and used my Canon SX40 at full zoom to capture these great little birds.

Canon SX40
Canon SX40

I arrived back at the car and headed for home, I decided though to stop off at the Causeway as two Little Gulls had been reported. I didn't see the Little Gulls, but i was treated to a flyover by an Osprey. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.


Looking for Hares at Sunset


Monday, 19 August 2013

Dipping on a Dipper

I have been to three locations now that were recommended for Dippers. I dipped on all of them! So, today we went for it again. A location I have tried before. Dowels Brook in the Wyre Forest.


It's a four and a half mile circular walk in beautiful surroundings. What made the walk even more enjoyable was great company, and successfully seeing a Dipper. Four sightings in fact. Not sure how many were repeats, but I know I saw a least two different birds.

The pictures aren't great, but decent record shots to remember the day and the birds by.

Ideal Dipper Habitat



It's been a long time since I last saw a Dipper. I won't forget these in a hurry.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

You're Barred

I had tried a couple of times locally for Crossbills with no luck. Some had been reported, but I hadn't been able to locate them. So, seeing a family of Two Barred Crossbills being reported in South Yorkshire for a few days on the trot, I decided to go for it.
Two Barred Crossbills being scarce, in fact, nationally rare, were obviously going to attract some attention, I wasn't wrong. Even arriving at about 8.30, parking in the lanes and bays was at a premium. Luckily, I got chatting to a local as soon as I got out of the car. He kindly offered to show me where to go, an offer I couldn't refuse, and off we went.
The popular viewing area was a clearing in the woodland amongst the Larch trees. The clearing was not clear on our arrival, twitchers had already occupied the area.
Standing room only.

With a few minutes of me finding a space to stand, a flock of about 60-70 Common Crossbills noisily arrived and started feeding in the tree tops. An impressive sight to see. A few minutes later, one of the throng of birders shouted out "Two Bar" and all scopes pointed in the direction he indicated. We followed his directions in the tree tops, and located our targets. I saw the female Two Barred and a Juvenile, unfortunately the male eluded me. Nevertheless, I was very pleased. They soon left with the rest of the flock, and on their return, I again located the female and a single Juvenile, again no male. I wasn't worried, I was happy,with what I had seen. More and more birders were arriving and I decided to vacate the area and make room for others.
The birds were very mobile, so I didn't manage any record shots.
I didn't manage a photo
A great morning in South Yorkshire. On the way home, we called into several picturesque places in the Peak District.

Broomhead Reservoir South Yorkshire

Langsett Reservoir
Heard Crossbills at Langsett, couldn't see them in tree tops though.

Peak District

Derwent Dam
A very memorable day!
Derwent Dam

Friday, 16 August 2013

Bird Fair 2013

I set off this morning Rutland Water bound, for Bird Fair 2013. I left Tamworth in torrential rain with roads flooded, and the rain stayed with me all the way to Rutland. I arrived at the advertised opening time of 9.00am, and still got caught in a traffic queue to gain entrance. The cars in front of me had already turned the field into mud a fest, and the rain kept coming.

It did stop for about half and hour, then kicked in again. By 11.45, I had seen what I wanted to see, spoken to who I wanted to talk to, and decided to leave rather than wait for conditions in the car park to deteriorate further. I was surprised to discover I had to leave the same way as I came in, against the flow of traffic. It wasn't too bad though. I headed over to the Lyndon side of Rutland to have a look at this years young Ospreys. The rain stopped, it brightened up and I hope the car parks over at the Bird Fair improved quickly?

The rain didn't deter the crowds, the place quickly filled up.



The Swarovski Stand

Ornithological Pornography


I was very impressed with the new ATX scopes and how they are designed to incorporate digiscoping as a function of the scope rather than an afterthought. Enjoyed playing with the equipment.

I saw the complete Manton Bay Family of Ospreys. The adult female spent time with the three juveniles around the nest and perches. The male, was way down the reservoir on a perch getting some peace and quiet. Whenever he was within sight of the young, they constantly screech and beg for food. So, they all thought he was off fishing, when in reality he was enjoying some quiet time.

Adult Female and one of this years young.


Adult Female and Youngster


Not bad pictures hand held with my Canon SX40 camera considering they were about 300 yards away.

I also enjoyed chatting with the Rutland Osprey Project volunteers in the hide. They were asking about my little Opticron GS52 ED scope. I let them view the Ospreys through it, and they were impressed. I even hand held my phone to the zoom eyepiece and took a snap, just to show them it was capable of distant record shots. This was 300 yards in very hazy conditions.

iPhone through scope


They were suitably impressed with lightness, compactness and image quality. I think most of them know they have carried their 80mm scopes down to the last hide. They took details of make and model, and I think Opticron will be hearing from them. Wonder if I can earn commission?