Friday, 30 July 2010

26-7-10, Whitemoor Haye.

I was just settling down to watch Emmerdale when I recieved a text message from a West Brom birder telling me a Grey Phalarope had been reported at Whitemoor Haye. BLOODY HELL. I zoomed down there and started scanning the main lake. A good half an hours scanning produced no such bird. Was it on the other pit which we can't get to? Had it flown off? Was it there in the first place? Aftyer three quarters of an hour I decided it was not present. Birds which were were Lapwing, Common Sandpiper about 8, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Mute Swan, Swallow, Yellowhammer, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Skylark, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Herring Gull, Starling, Goldfinch, Magpie and Swifts.
Its funny because not long ago I was having a scan over the lake and, watching the juvenile Black-headed Gulls, I remeber thinking that these look a bit like a Phalarope. Maybe the original observer fell into that little trap.

The Franklins Gull is still making an appearance at Chasewater. I came off call on Friday morning and was thinking of going to Chasewater Friday evening after packing however the weather was a tad damp to say the least so twas not possible. Could it stay till middle of next week? Surely not!!!

I am writing this on Saturday morning, I am about to set off on a mini golf break in Scotland. Birding will be proberbly non existant but I will take my stuff up just in case.

Monday, 26 July 2010

25-7-10, Croxall GP.

I decided to give Whitemoor Haye a break and head a bit further down the road to Croxall. With a few decent waders showing around the Midlands, this is a good a place as anywhere. I headed up to the Main Hide and noted Blue Tit, Wren, Wood Pigeon, Goldfinch, Magpie, Coot Lapwing, Great Crested Grebe, Reed Warbler, Oystercatcher, Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Carrion Crow, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Sedge Warbler. From the hide I was expecting a few waders and ducks but as I approached thew hide all I saw were two fishermen. That was that. the only birds noted from the hide were a Blackbird, a Common Tern and a couple of Ringed Plover near the hide. Feeling a bit disappointed I headed to the east side and added Grey Heron, Cormorant, Stock Dove, Lomg-tailed Tit, Stock Dove, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Sand Martin, Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Willow Warbler.

25-7-10, Whitemoor Haye.

Yep I couldn't keep away. I was getting tired though after no rest for ages. As I was going to town later I had a visit to the pool followed by a drive around the lanes. Birds noted at the pool were Mute Swan, Yellowhammer, Black-headed Gull, Carrion Crow, Swallow, Wood Pigeon, Greenfinch, Lapwing, Pied Wagtail, Mallard, Blue Tit, Wren, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Goldfinch, a family of Lesser Whitethroats that showed very well, Yellow Wagtail and Linnet. Birds noted around the lanes were Cormorant, Common Whitethroat, Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Robin, Reed Bunting and Swift.

25-7-10, Home.

I was outside my home at about 21.15 sorting out tools for Monday when out of the corner of my eye a big bird flew over the factory next door. I turned around to see the bird fly and settle in one of the large trees in the garden. It looked like a Tawny Owl. It couldn't be, not in the middle of Alrewas. Having said that I thought I heard one a few nights ago but I concluded that I was hearing things. I shouted my mom, creppt up to the tree and sure enough there was a Tawny Owl sitting in the pine trees. Superb. A garden tick and a year tick.

24-7-10, Whitemoor Haye.

After a day behind a market stall in Hanley town centre speaking to volunteers I fancied a nice steady walk around Whitemoor with the dogs. And thats exactly what I did. First the rough track and birds noted were Wood Pigeon, Swallow, Black-headed Gull, Greenfinch, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Canada Geese, Mallard, Corn Bunting, Skylark, Common Whitethroat, Blue Tit, Kestrel, Dunnock, Jackdaw, M0oorhen and Goldfinch. At the quarry pool I added Mute Swan, Common Sandpiper and Herring Gull. It was a lot quieter than this morning but the weather was nice and it was just a nice walk. The Quail were reported seen today. This was quite puzzling as the field had been completely harvasted during the morning. I wonder where the bird was heard as there is no cover in the usual field.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

24-7-10, Whitemoor Haye.

I am working today so an early morning walk around the lanes produced Tree Sparrow, Swallow, Starling, Robin, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer, Blackbird, Corn Bunting, Greenfinch, Pheasant, Common Whitethroat, Black-headed Gull, Linnet, Wren, Magpie, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Mallard, Skylark, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Dunnock, Song Thrush and 2 Stock Doves. Over to the pool and I added Lapwing, Canada Geese, Common Sandpiper, Pied Wagtail and Swallow. This pool was hard to scan this morning as the sun was right on it and bright. There was a wader showing on the right hand side on the point. It was next to the Common Sandpiper and was almost double the size. It had a clean white chest. The plumage tricky to pick out because of the sun. Its bill was Redshank like but the size of the bird put me off. It seemed to have dark legs although the sun might have had an affect and it also did a lot of bobing. I'll put it down to a bbj (big brown job). I might have a walk around there later and try to find it again.

Friday, 23 July 2010

23-7-10, Joke Alert.

A man goes into a vets with his dog and says "Mr Vet, my dog is cross-eyed"
The vet lifts him up and takes a look. Then he says "I'm afraid I'll have to put him down",
"Why" cried the man, "because he's cross-eyed?"
"No" said the vet,
"Because he's to heavy"

Brian Blessed mid QI, Dave.

23-7-10, Whitemoor Haye.

After watching the dunken demise of Shadrack I headed off to Whitemoor Haye me dog. We had a steady walk around the rough track before having a look over the quarry pool. It was a lovely night with no wind but some very dark clouds heading my way. Nether the less I got round dry. Birds noted around the track were Swallow, Greenfinch, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Yellowhammer, Wood Pigeon, Linnet, Song Thrush, Common Whitethroat, Stock, Canada Geese, Blackbird, Corn Bunting, Rook, Buzzard, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Swift, Grey Heron, Kestrel, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wren, Magpie, Pheasant, Robin, Mallard and Reed Bunting. Heading back towards the car I had about eight Corn Buntings. They were making a very slight sound. I dont know whether it was an alarm call or adult and juveniles communicating. Very nice to watch them for a bit though. Will look up later. Over to the quarry pool and I added 15 to 20 Lapwing, 4 Common Sandpipers, Black-headed Gull and Mute Swan. Note no sign of any Quail.
On the way round I had a listen for ten minutes but nothing. Once I'd finished at the pool I went and had another twenty minutes but no sign tonight. Maybe tomorrow. Oh yes, some numpty has deposited his van load of waste all around the rough track. Thanks for that you codeye (yeah, as if he reads this!!!!!).

Thursday, 22 July 2010

21-7-10, Chasewater CP.

Wednesday night I play football at work for an hour. I know. Very hard to believe. Anyway I do and its good fun plus the obvious excercise. As soon as we finished it was straight home, a bit of food and then I was on the north shore just before 19.00. I got to the group of birders and asked if it was still around. The response? Flushed five minutes ago. Flushed last night by homo-sapians tonight flushed by Falco peregrinus. Yep, a juvenile Peregrine was terrorising the birds around Chasewater, the Franklins Gull included. The group searched through the returning gulls but no luck until a group of birders on the west bank started waving. They had relocated it in the north-eastern area, near the swag. we all marched over the bays, around the corner to a group of gulls. As I put the scope on them up they went and off into the distance. One guy said he had definate views of the bird there. Fantastic. Flushed three times in two days. By now it was about 19.30. A group of us hung around the north shore as slowly but surely birds drifted in to roost. All except the wanted one. Birds noted were Mute Swan, Common Tern, Goldfinch, Mallard, Swallow, Coot, Wood Pigeon, Great Crested Grebe, Canada Geese, Tufted Duck, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sand Martin, Magpie, Dunnock, Linnet, Cormorant, Green Sandpiper, Gadwall, Moorhen, Pochard, Peregrine, Pied Wagtail, Swift, Reed Bunting, Mediterranean Gull, Little egret and Yellow-legged Gull. I hung around until 21.30 but no sign, it was getting too dark and any views would have been quite unexciting. Eventually it turned up to roost at 21.45. Tonight (Thursday) I had things on so I could not go, and there has been no sign of it up to now anyway. Oh well, thats the way it goes.
This was my last chance for this bird, unless it hangs around for over a week as I am on call yet again and working Saturday but I will get a bit of local birding done.
I have just edited this on Friday morning and the bird did not show yesterday at all.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

20-7-10, Chasewater CP.

I was planning on coming here tonight to try and see if the Franklins Gull was playing ball. I got home from work and, as usual, my mate came round for our nightly stomp when I had a message from Mr Local Birder (I thank you). The bird was present. Doh. The 4 mile stomp turned into a 1.5 mile hike before heading for Chasewater. I arrived at 18.40 and there were a number of birders present but not all looking in the same direction. This usually means bad news, and I was right. The bird was flushed along with a load of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and it had not been relocated. I hung around for an hour before the heavens opened. Other birds noted were Cormorant, Goldfinch, Mute Swan, Common Tern, Coot, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Ringed Plover, lesser Black-backed Gulls, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Canada Geese, Carrion Crow, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Black-headed Gull, Moorhen, Swift and Magpie. To be honest the birds were so distant I would have had trouble picking out the small changes from Black Heads and Franlklins, I was reliant on someone else finding it and then looking down a more powerful scope to see the differences.
Theres always tonight......and tomorrow night....and the night after...........

Monday, 19 July 2010

19-7-10, Whitemoor Haye, am.

After working yesterday I had today off and decided to get back out birding for a little while. First port of call was the usual Whitemoor Haye and a I started with a walk around the lanes. Birds noted were Swallow, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Black-headed Gull, Swift, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Common Whitethroat, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Stock Dove, Rook, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Corn Bunting, Greenfinch, kestrel, Blue Tit, Great Tit, magpie, Tree Sparrow, Blackbird, Skylark, Wren, Chaffinch and a singing Quail. Then on to the quarry pool. Unfortunately the weather had warmed up so there was a heat haze and the sun was reflecting off the water so I only added Mute Swan, Starling, Pied Wagtail, and Lapwing.

19-7-10, Fradley Pool.

I still had the Franklins Gull in my head. Annoyed that I had missed such a decent bird so close, all for beer. I headed for a new place to bird, well nearly new, I think I have had a look around here once before. I met up with a couple of birders the other evening and just before I did I was talking to myself (as usual) and thinking about finding a new place for a common patch. Whitemoor is brilliant but I fancied another site. I was talking to a few chaps and this pool came up. It is situated on the edge of the old Fradley Estate, now near the shops. They said they had seen some good stuff recently and might be worth keeping an eye on although there are plans for it to be filled in. Anyway birds noted were Goldfinch, Canada Geese, Mute Swan, House Martin, Greenfinch, Coot, Mallard, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Swallow, Moorhen, Sedge Warbler, Blue Tit and Swift. Ok not the greatest list but it has potential. There was also lots of insects, dragonflies and butterflies around, plus large areas of waste land which could produce something. Will be well worth keeping an eye on I think.

19-7-10, Whitemoor Haye, pm.

With no sign of any Franklins Gull on the internet or pager I decided to have another look around Whitemoor, in particular, park on the rough bend and have a look for the Quail. My plan was to sit about and listen and track them and you never know what might happen. this sounded good until I got to the bend and a good 50 metres of crop had been combined. Disaster. Had the birds gone? It wasn't looking good. Ten minutes past with no hint of any Quail. I then walked up the track to a small wooden fence and within seconds came the unmistakable call of the Quail. It was not far away and was quite vocal. I started waling back to the bend and the bird seemed to be heading in the same direction, unless there was more than one bird. I sat near the bend and listened to the bird for about fifteen minutes but with no sighting I was soon on my way. Other birds noted were Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Yellowhammer, Swallow, Black-headed Gull, Canada Geese, Corn Bunting, Blackbird, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Dunnock, Skylark, Buzzard, Stock Dove, Jackdaw and Greenfinch. From here it was onto the quarry pool and much better conditions to scan the shoreline. It was pretty quiet, no very quiet. Birds noted were Lapwing, Mallard and a distant Kestrel.
On the pool there was a building flock of gulls, about two hundred by 20.20 and rising. I was thinking of putting a call out to any birders who can ID a Franklins Gull as you never know. But I do now as when I got home I looked on Birdguides and irt was showing at Chasewater. Aarrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhh. Nothing from Birdnet!!!!! Gutted.
I was talking to a couple of birders and I mentioned that Quail would be a lifer if I saw it. they mentioned that Quail does come with tape luring but the easiest way is listen for the bird and when it is near charge at it and hopefully it will fly. I remember a couple of years ago when I saw the Great Snipe on Lindisfarne. There was an organised sweep to flush the bird. Yep we saw it, yep it was id'd as a Great Snipe but I did not get the same feeling about this lifer as I do with others. And I think the same could be said with the Quail. I would rather see the bird doing something natural than run at it and scaring the crap out of it. If I dont get to see one then thats life but I wont stop trying.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

18-7-10, News.

I have been a silly boy. The previous post was about this Franklins Gull that has appeared at Chasewater. I still have not been able to go yet. The village show was another huge success but after we finished we sat down and had a few beers. On checking Birdguides later on the bird had appeared for the third night. Today I am working in Rugeley with a group of volunteers but I will be free once i have finished so fingers crossed it turns up again this afternoon/evening.

Friday, 16 July 2010

17-7-10, Alrewas Show Day

Yep its this time of year again. Alrewas Show Day. God knows how many years Ive stood out on the road telling cars where to go (the odd one quite literally!!). This also means no birding today and as I am working tomorrow, litte chance then. However I di have Monday off so I will get to the odd local place plus a new place I have recently been informed about.
Ive learnt to check my pager more often this week. A Franklins Gull was at Chasewater on Thursday night (I think). As I was on call and the weather was a tad variable my pager was left in my bag on silent as I always have it at work in the office. I did not read about it until yesterday morning and there has been no sign since. Must check it more often. Off to the show now for a 12 hour stint. If anyone is going come and say high, I'm the misreable looking one at the road junction.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

11-7-10, Whitemoor Haye.

I was planning on no birding this weekend. Saturday I was in a fishing match which I did awful in. Sunday was British Grand Prix, Scottish Open and then World Cup final. The morning was doing a few jobs. My mom couldnt walk the dogs so I took them around Whitemoor Haye and did a bit of birding. Birds noted were Yellowhammer, Linnet, Swallow, Carrion Crow, Skylark, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw, Corn Bunting, Magpie, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Wren, Stock Dove, Great Tit, Blackbird, Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch, Common Whitethroat, kestrel, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Starling, Song Thrush, Sedge Warbler, Black-headed Gull and Swift. I did stop off at the bend in the rough track to listen for Quail but I heard nothing. It was very windy and all I could hear was the rustle of the hedges. Heading back to the car I noticed a car I recognised so I got to my car and headed back to the rough track. There were a few birders there, one being Blurred Birder which has been rarer than the bird they were all looking for. Mr Yapp had heard a couple of Quail earlier and it wasn't long until we all heard one. After a chat and a look at the watch it was time to head home. I didn't have time to scan the quarry pool, just a quick look and I added Canada Geese, Lapwing, and Mallard. Next weekend I am working on the gates at the Alrewas Show and on the Sunday I am working so birding will be limited next week.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

4-7-10, Alrewas GP.

After a decent nights kip I was up and ready at 06.30. I decided to load the push bike up with my photography kit and head off for the local gravel pits to photograph anything that deserved it. I was on site by 07.00 and birds noted were Blackcap, Magpie, Common Tern, Reed Bunting, Collared Dove, Tufted Duck, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Mallard, Coot, Stock Dove, Chiffchaff, Oystercatcher, Canada Geese, Robin, Wren, Swallow, Black-headed Gull, Grey Heron, Common Whitethroat, Lapwing and Goldfinch.

Half way along the track I spent a good half an hour photographing the following.

Cantharis livida on RagwortA kind of day moth.Cinnebar Moth caterpillar on Ragwort (where else!)Havn't got a clue, could be plant escaped from captivity!!!!Meadow Brown I think.

Sorry about the vague identification, I have not had time to look at the photos and ID them before putting them on the blog.

When I was working for BTCV some ten years ago now I decided I was going to learn as many names to plants, beetles, butterflies, anything basically that survives in the wild in the UK. I was armed with my 35mm Minolta Dynax 500 and I photograped and tried to ID as much as I could. I learnt a lot of flowers and some insects but have forgot a lot so it was great fun today getting out and trying again.

4-7-10, National Arboretum.
Next was the Arboretum which is a quick hop over the railway line. A bit of a struggle with a bike loaded with camera gear and for the first time ever I had to wait for a train. Once in the Arboretum I had a look around a large strip of wildflowers, doing a bit of photography.
The National Arboretum wild flower patchCorn Marigold me thinks.
Common Bird's-Foot-Trefoil or Eggs and Bacon.DandelionUnsure as yetPoppyPossible Herb Robert, will check
Common Bird's-foot-Trefoil again, trying to remove it.

I did a bit of birding to by the way. Birds noted were Wren, Swallow, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull, Kestrel, Magpie, Reed Bunting, Cormorant, Coot, Swift, Blackbird, Pheasant, Wood Pigeon, Common Tern, Oystercatcher, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit and Great Tit. A bit quiet on the bird front really but I did get a few juvenile Great Tits for that "Aaarrrrr" moment.
Juvenile Great Tit.

4-7-10, Junction Pit.
Half way around the Arboretum and I popped over to the Junction Pit to see what was there. It looks like Black-headed Gulls have enjoyed a good breeding year, especially on the tern rafts at Croxall. There was juveneiles everywhere. Other birds noted were Reed Warbler, Mute Swan, Lapwing, Great Tit, Reed Bunting, Mallard, Canada Geese, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Cormorant, Greylag Geese and Swallows.
4-7-10, Croxall Wides.

Again, as I was visiting the Junction Pit, another 100 yards under the viaduct and there is cracking views of the new workings at Croxall from over the river. Much better viewing the works from the Arboretum side than creeping up and scaring the birds from the Croxall side. Mind you, I must admit there was not many birds too scare. Birds noted were Mute Swan, Reed Bunting, Sand Martin, Pied Wagtail, Common Tern, Black-headed Gull and Swift. Whilst I was there I got the camera out and photographed the following.
Banded DemoiselleTormentil

4-7-10, Whitemoor Haye.
Last site for the day was a very windy Whitemoor. I didn't really look at the forecast and was suprised with this wind getting so strong. The forecasters got something right at least. Birds noted around here were Mallard, Canada Geese, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greenfinch, Redshank, Lapwing, Carrion Crow, Linnet, Common Sandpiper, Yellowhammer, Sand Martin, Oystercatcher, Swift, Corn Bunting, Swallow, Blackcap, Blackbird, Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Stock Dove, Kestrel, Common Whitethroat, Yellow Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, Starling and Magpie. Feeling a bit tired and very hungry I headed back home but couldn't resist taking a photo of one last flower.
Tufted Vetch.
Next Saturday I have a fishing match so no birding, hopefully out Sunday but only local because on call yet again. Might try and get out midweek but footy and stuff, you know.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

3-6-10, Southfields Farm

This farm is situated near Coleshill and is the one given to me to carry out bird surveys for the RSPB. I was up at 05.00 and on site for just after 06.00. The survey entails walking around all of the hedgerows listing down birds seen and heard and their activity. Birds listed on the visit were House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Yellowhammer, Wren, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Starling, Robin, Magpie, Song Thrush, Red-legged Partridge, Common Whitethroat, Swift, Swallow, Little Owl (bonus year tick), Collared Dove and Green Woodpecker. A nice visit and a bonus year tick.

3-6-10, Whitemoor Haye.

After a bad nights sleep and an early start with lots of walking I headed for an easy walk around Whitemoor with my dog. Around the roads I noted Swallow, Tree Sparrow, Skylark, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Linnet, Rook, Common Whitethroat, Magpie, Goldfinch, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit, Wren, Chaffinch, a calling Quail on the bend along the rough track, Blackbird, Buzzard, Reed Bunting, Dunnock, Swift, Kestrel, and Black-headed Gull. Back to the car and a short drive to the quarry pit and I added Mallard, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Sand Martin, Ringed Plover and Pied Wagtail.

3-6-10, Croxall GP.

After some breakfast/lunch I decided to have a rest and watch the Germany/Argentina match. Another very good match with a slightly suprising result. I have been backing the Dutch to win after the group stage but the Germans are looking good. Back to birding and I decided to head to Croxall for a couple of hours before the Spain/Paraguay match started (which turned out to be an awful match), and stretch my legs. There were a couple of people around but not too busy so it was an enjoyable visit. Birds noted on the main side were Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Magpie, Sedge Warbler, Wren, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Swallow, Canada Geese, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Starling, Mallard, Pochard, Barnacle Geese and Oystercatchers. To the right of the main hide, soil was deposited from what was dug out from the river. It has made a big area of waterlogged soil and so much shows depending on the water levels. There was a fair bit showing today and there was loads of juvenile Black-headed Gulls and Ringed Plovers plus a couple of Common Sandpipers and loads of Lapwings. All quite close to the hide giving good views. Great fun. Onto the east side and I added Blackbird, Dunnock, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Rook, Common Tern, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Robin, Chaffinch, Stock Dove, Moorhen, Grey Heron and Kestrel. Heading back to the car feeling very tired I added Song and Mistle Thrush to end the day.