Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Points of interest

I have been avoiding some areas of the Moors recently due to the length of the grass and the height of the nettles. This, combined with an abundance of ticks has not made walking the area easy. I have been lucky, no ticks on me. Poor Taz has not been so lucky. I enjoy taking her birding with me, so alternative areas have been visited.

On a plus side, some of the meadows have now been cut and are being harvested for silage. It will soon be walkable again.

Tuesday Evening - A visit to the Water Park produced a surprise in the form of a Bar Headed Goose. This bird visited the a Water Park last year too. In fact, almost a year to the day.

Wednesday Evening - again found me having a late walk around the Water Park. I hadn't intended going out this evening, but after a late dinner decided to go for a walk. I'm glad I did. I saw my first Cuckoo of the year, and the view was one of the best I've had. I heard its unmistakable call and started scanning the trees. I eventually located it. It then took flight and flew towards me. These are the best in flight views of a Cuckoo I have ever had. I was very pleased.

I also found three Little Egret settling down to roost for the evening..

The Cormorants had other ideas. As more and more Cormarnts came in to roost, the Egrets received more and more aggrevation from them. Eventually, they succambe to the pressure and vacated the roost.

Another enjoyable after work wander and a year tick Cuckoo thrown in for good measure. These evening walkabouts are proving to be worth the effort.

I just like this picture.


Another impromptu late evening wander. Spent a couple of hours with WJE in the hides. We watched a nice conditioned but thin looking fox, walk around the margin of the pool. It eventually waded out into the shallow water and concealed itself within the dense undergrowth of one of the islands.

The forecast rain, which I doubted would arrive, arrived right on cue. We headed back for the cars in a steady drizzle but managed to miss the worst of it.

Had a few evening errands to run, then managed a bit of birding. Had great views of a Barn Owl hunting over the meadow. I watched it for over 40 mins. It would appear, catch a small mammal from the grass, then disappear with its catch. I saw three successful captures, and eventually managed to keep eyes on where it was taking its captures. I found another Barn Owl nest! Considering how badly this species has been hit nationwide by our recent bad winters and flooding, this year seems to hold some hope for our local population beginning to make a comeback.



Monday, 23 June 2014

Sunday Mornings

I always venture out early, somewhere local, on Sunday mornings. As the grass, nettles,and brambles are over waist high on the Moors at the moment, I decided to check out other local spots.

I ended up checking out a couple of Tame Valley pits to see what was about. I was very pleased to see an Oystercatcher on one of them. I have had flyovers before, but this pit is deep with very few shallow muddy areas. So an Oystercatcher grounded and feeding is a first for me on this venue.

I also stumbled across three Carp feeding in the margin. I watched them for easily ten minutes before they drifted off. It was difficult to photograph them through the glare without a polarising filter. This was the best I could manage.

They were the mornings highlights. The rest of the walk resulted in the usual sightings, still pleasing to see though.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

An hour on the river

Nothing new to report on the local birding front. As previously stated June is a slow one in the Midlands. I did walk along the river Anker early this morning. I heard quite a few young Tawny's calling. Initial signs seem to be that our local Tawny's may be having a successful breeding season. I hope this continues.

There has been a Little Owl sighted on my patch, not by be unfortunately, but I will keep an eye on the area in question.

I have travelled a little further afield to get my Barn Owls this year. Still local, but off my patch. No Barn Owl sightings on my patch so far this year? I fear my local patch Barn Owls didn't survive the last two wet breeding seasons. I hope this year is an improvement. It would be nice to see some of this years young Barn Owls setting up a territory in the now vacated areas of my patch. Time will tell.

A few Bullfinches were showing this morning. I haven't seen one for a while while they have been busy nesting and incubating. Impressive birds.

As the birding is quiet at the moment, I am feeling the urge to spend some of the summer chasing Chub on the local rivers. I walked the Tame this afternoon looking for likely spots to start a short Chub fishing campaign. There were plenty of common bird species about on the water.

Gulls are complicated to ID in their various plumages. I will take a stab at this one and say, Herring Gull, second Summer plumage. Gull ID and plumages are not a strong point of mine.

The local Canada's had set up a crèche and were ferrying the goslings along keeping them safe.

The local Squirrels were being brave. This lactating female grey was enjoying some Peanuts and even taking them from peoples hands. She must be enjoying the good grub on offer, it obviously takes its toll feeding young.

The partially leucistic Canada was also on the river this afternoon.

An interesting wander about, and I may have found a few likely looking spots to cast a line for a decent Chub or two?



Thursday, 19 June 2014

Two Patch Year Ticks.

Monday evening was a real treat in birding terms. I didn't start wandering around my patch until 7.30pm and was still roaming about at 10.30pm.

Within 15min of arriving on the patch I had a real result. My second sighting of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker this year. I was made up. I didn't attempt getting too close for pictures. It was a little overcast so a high ISO on the camera resulted in a poor grainy picture. One shot, and it was gone.


I eventually ended up by a little copse as the light was fading, and could hear the squeaky calls of young branching Tawny's. I spent ages scanning the trees trying to pinpoint one of the three young that were calling from different areas. No such luck. I definitely had one call pinpointed to a definite area of a specific tree, still couldn't locate it. I didn't want to get too close and start pestering them, so I decided to call it an evening and head for home. Just as I was leaving, I heard the call of an adult Tawny, a parent and very close judging by the call. It called again, and I pinpointed it with the binoculars and had some great views as we stared directly at each other.

I got the camera out of its bag, found the Tawny in the viewfinder, took a small step to the left to get a better composition to the picture, and it dropped off the branch it was perched on and silently and swiftly, vanished from view. All before I depressed the shutter. Never mind, I had some very good views.

There were also quite a few Burdett Moths about too, again, light was poor so picture quality suffered. Nice to see though. I will be taking some more evening strolls soon.


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Out and about.

June in the Midlands is a quiet time for birding. There are plenty of common species about, but surprises are thin on the ground. I decided I would check out a local Barn Owl nest on Sunday evening, Owls are a real favourite of mine.

For obvious reasons, I won't be giving the location out on the internet.

The light was poor this evening and the nest is in the 100 yards distant region. Combined with the fact the birds remained in cover, it made getting a picture difficult.

From what I could make out, it looks like two parent birds, one perched on the left, and if you look carefully, it looks like one above it. There is a very downy bird to the right, the oldest chick maybe? Another younger chick can be seen peering out of the nest box.


It made my day seeing this, so far successful brood. I hope to go back in better lighting conditions and hopefully get some better pictures.


Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Quiet Weekend

After the excitement of a Red Backed Shrike, the rest of the weekend was pretty slow. Friday evening I took a walk with Taz and Pete around the lanes at Alvecote. Not a lot to report.

There are plenty of Rabbits about enjoying the sunny snaps

Saturday morning Taz and I headed out early to avoid the forecast "worst storms in memory." We arrived back at the car as the thunder started to rumble and the skies darken. A few cracks of lightning, a torrential downpour lasting about five minutes, and that was it?

I popped into town and met up again with this strange looking Canada Goose. Not sure if it's just Pied, or if it would be classed as partially leucistic? Stands out in the flock though.

Stand out Canada


Later in the day I did visit Tameside, it was more flooded than I expected, but it allowed me to test my new birthday Wellies out. Muckboots the Muckmaster model. Comfy to walk in, and everything I have come to expect from this company. They kept me bone dry and had excellent grip.

Entrance to Tameside
A good test of the new Wellies


Tameside. A pair of a Gadwall


There were a few Damselflies showing themselves around Tameside, managed a couple of pictures.

Banded Demoiselle Damselfly (female)

Banded Demoiselle Damselfly

Sunday involved a wander around Dosthill reserve early morning. Plenty of Whitethroat about again.

Sunday evening Pete, Taz, and I met up with the lads at Kingsbury Water Park for a bit of birding and a chin wag. The birding was very quiet. High water levels meant any chance of a wading bird was slim. We didn't see any. It also looks like a few nests may have been lost to the rising water.

There is plenty to see, even on a quiet weekend. Hoping for a local patch surprise soon.



Thursday, 5 June 2014

Red Backed Shrike.

What a bird! And a very enjoyable evening. I was still at work when the report came through of of a Red Backed Shrike in Warwickshire. A rare bird for these parts indeed. It seems the last recorded sighting was around 1986.

I hoped the bird was enjoying its chosen stop off point. That the hot weather would hold, that the insects and Bumble Bees it would be feasting on were plentiful, and that it would sit tight and wait for me to finish work and come to it.

My luck held. A rush home from work, change of clothes, grab the birding kit and straight back into the car with a coffee in my hand in under 10 minutes.

I arrived at WMBC Ladywalk Reserve (Permit Only) about 15 minutes later and set off to find the bird. I met up with some local birders and with the help of some good directions, we were soon looking at Warks first Red Backed Shrike for 28 years. And my first sighting ever!

The bird was distant, about 300 yards away, combine that with bright sunshine and heat haze, decent pictures were not going to be easy to obtain. It's at times like this you know you have to just do the best you can to try and obtain an acceptable record shot. My camera was struggling with the distance through the heat haze. The pictures even for record shots were poor.

So, it was time to put the iPhone and adapter to their first real test. This was a big ask of a phone camera, but worth a go. As it turns out, the results were a few very acceptable record shots. Not great pictures, but you can clearly see what the bird is.

An enjoyable evening, a great local tick, and it was nice to meet some more fellow birders and have laugh and a chat.

Red Backed Shrike - Phonescoped.




I also managed a bit of video footage.

The phone saves the day again.

This Warks MEGA was bound to attract plenty of attention. As I left, many were still arriving at Ladywalk, a gem of a reserve, to secure their Red Backed Shrike tick.

Birders arrive at Ladywalk.