Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Local Patching

On holiday and stayed local due to the severe weather warnings concerning the impending storm. To be honest, we were lucky and here in the Midlands, apart from some rain, it didn't happen.

I ended up walking the Moors with Pete. The temperatures had dropped, it was breezy and the previous nights rain had made it water logged in places. But it was still a nice walk.

We saw a Skylark, a small flock of Redwings, and my first Fieldfare of this autumn/winter. Also, the geese have started to appear, grazing in the fields. I will,be keeping an eye on these. Yesterday, they were all Canada's, today, three Greylag had joined them. I hope for some more goose surprises as the temperatures drop.

Tuesday morning found me wandering around Borrowpit and following the Tame to where it meets the Anker in the Castle Grounds. Saw a hunting Kestrel and a few Grey Squirrels. I know they look cute, but I am fully behind any managed cull of these none indigenous mammals to allow the reintroduction of our native Red Squirrel.

The Tame is just within its banks after all the rain. It won't take much more to put it over its banks.

The air temperature was noticibly cooler this morning, and that combined with high winds, Redwing and Fieldfare sightings and Goose flocks increasing suggest Autumn in now moving into Winter. The trees still,have most their leaves, but like this Chestnut, they are showing late Autumn colours.

Found the remains of what I think was a Cormorant. A fox had made a meal of it during the night. They are not a favourite bird amongst anglers, but always interesting to watch. I wonder how this one met its end?

I was surprised to see a small flock of Blackcap as I walked around the tree line near the stream. The stream does provide a good source of insects. It seems some Blackcap over winter here, so will keep an eye out and see if these hang about.

The gulls were very active this morning, and squabbling as Gulls do. These two kept driving each other off the perch as they wanted to perch in exactly the same spot.

As I headed back towards the car, I noticed a Little Egret in the trees on the island. My first sighting of one on this lake this year. As I reached the car, a pair of Grey Wagtail landed and started foraging on the shore line. Not a bad mornings walk.


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Twilight Whoopers and a bit of Ruff

Friday late afternoon and seven Whooper Swans were reported on Alvecote pools. Me, I was stuck at work and it looked unlikely I was going to get back home in time to see these Icelandic visitors. As I suspected, late meeting and then horrific traffic meant the light was as good as gone as I arrived home.

It seems that previous visiting Whoopers have never overnighted on the pools, these ones were the exception.

I was stood on the banks of Alvecote pools before first light in the rain hoping the Whoopers were still about, my luck was in. Seven Whoopers being quite vocal as the light values slowly increased.

At 7.00am I attempted to take some record shots. The light was still poor, it was very overcast and still raining. Considering the conditions and distance involved, the pictures although not great turned out better than I expected.

Seven Whoopers

At about 7.15am, a couple of shotgun blasts close by from neighbouring fields disturbed these swans and they started drifting downstream calling as they went.

I headed for home.

At about 11.00am with better light available I again headed to Alvecote looking for better picture opportunities in improved light conditions. No sign of the Whoopers on the Mill pool, but as I was scanning through some Swans on the far bank three waders passed through my field of view. I tracked them and they landed on the spit and dissapeared from sight behind vegetation. I didn't have to wait long before one wandered back into view, a juvenile Ruff! Eventually the other two appeared. Three Ruff on the Mill Pool.

I eventually lost sight of them as they went behind the blind side of the spit to me.

Juvenile Ruff

As I was in no rush, I checked the Teal pool and put a couple of Snipe up and managed to count five Little Egret between the Railway and Mill pools. No Whoopers though.

I headed over to the Pretty Pigs Lake just to check they hadn't carried on following the river downstream and ended up there. No luck.

I reported the now missing Whoopers to Tame Valley Birding along with my other sightings. On checking the days reports on TVB, I notice that Tom Perrins who runs this local service for Tame Valley Birders had also seen the Mill Pool Ruff, but now there were 4. Another local birder Mr.D.Wanklyn also contacted me to say he had also seen 4 Ruff on the Mill pool today.

It just shows that going out on a miserable, wet, grey day can have its benefits. Forecast for tomorrow is for rain all day, wonder what will drop in?


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Mystery Duck?

I have been concentrating on my local patches recently, fitting in a few quick after work birding sessions before the light beats me.
Anyway, a couple of evenings in the week have led to me briefly sighting an unusually marked duck on one of the pools I keep an eye on. The bird is very spooky and seeks cover as soon as it spots anyone walking the banks. So, the distance it puts between us combined with fading light had not made getting a decent picture possible. So, Saturday found me on a warm and bright October morning in search for this duck again.
My usual birding companion
I can't resist snapping a few pictures with my iPhone while walking round. Smartphones these days take incredibly good pictures.

Shaggy Inkcap
After just enjoying the stroll, I again stumbled upon my mystery duck. It did its usual trick and put some distance between us. This time however in much better light conditions my Canon SX40 managed to capture some decent ID shots.
Marbled Duck
I still couldn't make up my mind what this duck was, but now I had some pictures to research it.
Pete though got straight onto it and contacted me later in the day. Pete's verdict, Marbled Duck! It has since been confirmed that Pete was bang on the money with his ID.
Marbled Duck -This species is viewed by most birders as a likely vagrant to Britain, and Marbled Duck is accepted onto Category A of Birdwatch'sBirds of Britain:
This is very likely an escapee from a collection somewhere, but who knows?
Will update this if anymore news on this bird is forthcoming.


Jon and I went out this morning and relocated this Marbled Duck. It was stood in very shallow water and using a scope, we could make out what seemed to be a red coloured ring on its left leg.
 It seems that this duck has a little history ,"Presumably the same bird was seen at 2 separate sites in south Derbys in late August. It had a red/orange ring on its left leg."

 this information is taken from  www.birdforum.co.uk

They seek him here......

A text off John this morning asking if I fancied going for a second day reported Yellow Browed Warbler in Oakam near Rutland. I didn't need asking twice, and within half hour, we were on the road.

What we were looking for- the elusive YBW


We arrived early on the housing estate where the bird had been reported, and started our search. The Yellow Browed Warbler had been seen the day previously in a residents back garden. We started our search by this house.

The other side of this fence is the garden where it was last seen


We wandered around the estate checking in all likely looking places. Still no joy.

Wandering round the estate


On hearing a police siren, I wondered if it was heading in our direction? It must have looked odd to the waking residents of this estate looking out of their windows and seeing us wandering around the area wearing binoculars.

I hoped we wouldn't attract too much attention.


Soon, more birders had arrived and we no longer looked so suspicious as the numbers increased. A woman did come out of her house to ask us what was going on? She was very pleasant and quite interested in the gathering numbers of birders arriving.

With no luck locating the bird, we returned to the area it was last heard calling, by the back garden of the house where we initially started. I was very surprised when the owner came out and invited us all into his garden to continue our vigil there. I very kind gesture indeed.

The warblers favourite garden
The preferred residence of a Yellow Browed Warbler

We hung around for a while, but to no avail. There was no sighting of the YBW while we were there, and reluctantly, we conceded defeat on this twitch.

As is usually the case, we expected to see it appear as a message on our phones as "showing well" when we were 40 miles away in a homeward bound direction. It wasn't! In fact, it wasn't reported again that day.