Sunday, 31 October 2010

31-10-10, Alrewas GP.

There may have been an extra hour in bed during the night but my body clock doesn't work like that and I was up before dawn. In fact I was at Alrewas gravel pit as dawn broke. It was very nice but rather gloomy. I had my bike with me with all of my camera gear and I was looking forward to a full on birding and photography morning. Birds noted here were Pied Wagtail, Coot, Mute Swan, Mallard, Chaffinch, Wren, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Robin, fieldfare, Long-tailed Tit, Starling, Tufted Duck, Great Tit, Grey Heron, Dunnock, Pochard, Wigeon, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Pheasant, Moorhen, Reed Bunting, Great Crested Grebe, Meadow Pipit, Cormorant, Green Woodpecker, Magpie, Teal, gadwall, Stock Dove, Chiffchaff yes I know but I have had these winter here, Redwing and Buzzard. A great list for this site and a great start to the day. I also had a small raptor high over head, flew with three wing beats then a glide. On speaking to someone it was thought to be a Sparrowhawk.
I did have a go at digi-scoping. The Meadow Pipits were showing really well and stood for about an hour to get a good photo without success. I finally tried to photograph a Pied Wagtail but it was just too gloomy and dark. Bit of a waste but good fun watching the Mipits.

31-10-10, National Arboretum.

Through the tunnel and I was in the arboretum grounds and a steady walk provided me with Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Black-headed Gull, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Stock Dove, Wren, Pied Wagtail, Redwing, Great Tit, Mallard, Black-headed Gull, Kingfisher, Cormorant, Goldfinch, Teal, Green Woodpecker, Jay, Greenshank flew over from Croxall, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Skylark, Pheasant, Reed Bunting, Moorhen, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest and Bullfinch.

31-10-10, Junction Pit.

As it was still early I was hoping for a few birds on here. On arrival I was in for a shock, there was no water. Junction pit is basically a rectangulr pool with a line of trees through the middle making two squares. As you view with the river to your back, the left hand pool is usually half water and half sand/silt. This pool attracts waders and gull. the other half is all water attracting ducks and geese. Today, all that was attracted were Moorhen, Canada Geese, Mallard, Teal, Black-headed Gull, Snipe overhead, Redwing and Coot. Rubbish.

31-10-10, Whitemoor Haye.

Last site for me today as I am chilling out for the rest of the afternoon. I took a casual walk around Whitemoor. First birds were seen as I biked up the lane - Carrion Crow, Robin, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Goldfinch and Magpie. Then it was on to the pool. I noted 28 Mallard, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 49 Pochard, 14 Tufted Duck, 12 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 4 Goldeneye, 2 Ruddy Duck, Wren, a single Mute Swan, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird and Wood Pigeon. From here it was a steady walk around the lanes and I added Dunnock, Starling, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Buzzard, Lapwing, 14 Golden Plover, Blue Tit, Grey Partridge, a single Whooper Swan in amongst 176 Mute Swans, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Pheasant, yellowhammer, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Greylag Geese, Greenfinch, Tree Sparrow, Great Tit, Kestrel and Jackdaw. A nice couple of hours around here and a nice list.

The Whooper Swan at Whitemoor Haye.As I was heading home, I saw these Grey Partridge in the field opposite the national Arboretum entrance. Nice.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

30-10-10, Croxall GP.

I decided a bit of a change today and headed for Croxall first thing. Reason why in a bit. I was there for sunrise, waited until I could see then headed off into the reserve. I took a slow walk up to the hide but didn't go in. Then a walk on the east side before heading back to the main hide. A small stint in there then back to the car. Birds noted were Chaffinch, Wren, Carrion Crow, Robin, Magpie, Blackbird, Starling, Wood Pigeon, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Cormorant I took a rough count of these guys as most took off from the river with some landing in the reserve and the rest flying over, total 110, Dunnock, Redwing, Mallard, Grey Heron, Coot, Snipe, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Black-headed Gull, Jackdaw, Fieldfare, Pied Wagtail, Canada Geese, and about 200 Lapwing on the main side. Rook and Blue Tit only on the east side. Redshank 8, Dunlin 9, Teal, Shoveler 14, Reed Bunting, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greylag Geese, Gadwall, Moorhen, Skylark, Mistle Thrush, 3 Goldeneye and Meadow Pipit from the main hide. Back to the car and I added Song Thrush, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker and some Great Tits. A quality start to the day.
Unfortunately for the rest of the day it was working on the house and car MOT-ing. I did pop to Whitemoor Haye on the way to see if the Whooper Swan was with the Mutes but it wasn't at 10 am, however it turned up later.

30-10-10, Foremark Reservoir.

I decided to race to the gull roost to look for the Franklins Gull. As previously mentioned, I missed this bird at Chasewater a few months ago and I really needed another lifer for this year. As I was driving to the reservoir good news came through with the gull being seen at 15.00. As I arrived, bad news, it had flown off. Oh well here comes yet another wait. There was a fair few people on site. Whilst waiting I had a look what was around. Birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, Buzzard, Cormorant, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Coot, Tufted Duck, Pied Wagtail, Grey Heron, Common Gull, Mallard, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Meadow Pipit, Kingfisher and Song Thrush. It was getting near 17.00 when someone shouted it was flying past the tower and within seconfds i was on to a nice FRANKLINS GULL, lifer 304 for me. I managed to get some digi-shots as the sun started to disappear and enjoyed the bird until I decided to head back. Nice.

The Franklins Gull can be seen with the dark hood, white ring (look hard) and the slightly darker scapulars than the Black-headed Gulls around.

The Foremark Reservoir gull roost below

Friday, 29 October 2010

29-10-10, News

I looked on birdguides last night (pager battery ran dead, got no replacements), and a Franklins Gull had appeared first at Willington and then at Foremark to roost. Having missed the Chasewater bird I was going to Foremark tonight. That is until I had a phone call asking to go on call for the weekend. I wish I could say no but I cant and so I cant go and see the Franklins Gull either. Looks like some local stuff for me over the weekend as well as jobs and car MOT and tax.

25-10-10, Whitemoor Haye.

I had booked this day Monday off and my plan was to do some local pits. that was until I was drafted in completely destroying my bathroom at home ready for a brand new walls, ceiling and suite. deep joy, I did manage Whitemoor first thing and noted Magpie, Tree Sparrow, Starling, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Meadow Pipit, Lapwing, Chaffinch, Jackdaw, Reed Bunting, Black-headed Gull, Mute Swan, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Grey Partridge 14, Skylark, Wren, Buzzard, Yellowhammer, Pheasant, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare. I did try to find the Whooper Swan but I was about two hundred metres away from reaching the lane where you could see the birds and the local farmer must have took a disliking to the flock as he ran up to them waving a red flag to get rid of them, and get rid of them he did. Thanks for that. I also stopped off at the quarry lake but couldnt distinguish any birds as the sun was so low and bright on the water but I could see 20+ ducks.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

24-10-10, Parkgate RSPB

After getting a few things sorted at the house it was time to head home. I had been watching the tide times and today it was about 13.20, give or take. It was also forecast at 9.5 metres or near there. This could possibly be good for Parkgate. For those who dont know this place, Parkgate is on the Wirral facing the North Wales coast. What once used to be a port where boats would moor up to load, offload cargo, it is now been reclaimed by nature and all you can see is marsh. this is until there are spring tides or just very high tides. Then the sea water races over the marsh and for a time Parkgate is like it used to be with sea water lapping up to the sea wall. when these tides happen, all life within the marsh has to fight for survival and it can get rather gruesome. Hen and Marsh Harriers, Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Kestrels and even Grey Herons and Little Egrets have a field day eating what they can. Many a Water Rail has been seen taken by the Grey Herons but it is all of the shrews and voles which the birds feast on and it can be spectacular.
I decided to head there for high tide time and see what was about, hoping the tide would breach. Unfortunately it didn't quite make it so not the spactacle it could have been but I noted Wood Pigeon, Littel Egret, Black-headed Gull, Mallard, Skylark, carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Starling, Jackdaw, Linnet, Buzzard, kestrel, Grey Heron, Wren and a Sparrowhawk.

24-10-10, Frodsham Marsh.

I suppose this site will always be a bit special for me as it was the scene of my very first twitch and where i got the bug for birding properly. I was always interested in birds and remember in primary school joining the bird club and our teacher, Mrs Bates (whom I still see birding out and about and have been out birding with), led us down a path in the village which led to fields pointing out the birds. Ive blamed her ever since!! But whilst I worked for BTCV Cymru a couple of the guys were birdwatchers and I started to get back into it. Then on 18th May 1999 my boss asked me if I would like to go and see a Broad-billed Sandpiper at Frodsham Marsh. I agreed, the bird was noted and I have never looked back. In fact I was twitching a Marsh Warbler at Conwy RSPB only a month later.
So back to today and on arrival I decided to check out the River Weaver that flows around the marshes. Birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Robin, Wren, Cormorant, magpie, Tufted Duck, lapwing, Teal, Little Grebe, Pintail, Pochard, Mute Swan, Skylark, Redshank, Meadow Pipit, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Shelduck and Goldfinch. There are usually more waders when I visit here, quiet really. Then it was off on a drive around the settling tanks. The tanks are where the dredgings are tipped from the Manchester Ship Canal and there are quite a few huge tanks and it has had some good birds in the past, notably (on a personal scale) Dotteral on 7th April, 2002. It is walkable but there is also a very long road around the perimeter. I drove. It was basically drive, stop, drive and stop, looking down into the large tanks to see what was on the mud. In years gone by there was much more water and lots a more birds. Today there was just mainly Lapwing and lots of mud. I did add Kestrel, Curlew, Linnet and Great Black-backed Gull. Not much birding wise but its always nice to go back and visit.

24-10-10, Whitemoor Haye.

It was then a long drive back home. I was thinking about one of the flashes I have visited in the past around Crewe but headed home instead. Shame as a White Stork had been present at Elton flash for part of the day. Oh well, I had to put up with the Whooper swan that was with the Mute Swans. A quick look there before the lake were it started to lash down so home. Birds noted were the Whooper and Mute Swans, Lapwing, Starling, Dunnock, Magpie, Dunnock, and Robin around the lane hedges and Grey Heron, Carrion Crow, 6 Mallard, Pied Wagtail, 2 Tufted Duck, Black-headed Gull, 6 Pochard, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Teal and 5 Wigeon.

Monday, 25 October 2010

23-10-10, Llanfairfechan.

After getting my jobs done in the morning I was free to bird the afternoon. and I didnt have a clue where to go. I could blast over to Anglesey for a Glossy Ibis, or the Greast Orme for Lapland Buntings. As high tide was near I headed for Llanfairfechan, and excellent sea-watching area in the winter. I viewed from the promenade before walking west. Birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Jackdaw, Great Crested Grebe, Great Black-backed Gull, Mute Swan, Mallard, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Purple Sandpiper, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Wren, Meadow Pipit and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Again not much but the Purple Sandpipers were a suprise. They were on my wanted list and I thought I would have had to scour the rocks at Rhos on Sea for them but when 8 of them flew past there was no need.

23-10-10, Glan Y Mor Ellan Nature Reserve.

From Llanfairfechan I walked west and kept going. dont know why. My intention was to go to Morfa Madryn nature reserve but I never got that far. I came across this nature reserve. It was basically a footpath in a figure of eight with the insides wetlands with lots of birds. A basic description but you can get the gist. I walked through the middle and back and noted Black-headed Gull, Carrion Crow, Oystercatcher, Starling, Wigeon, Mallard, Redshank, Little Egret, Curlew, Pintail, Teal, Shelduck, Meadow Pipit, Robin and Chaffinch. Not many but its a nice place.

23-10-10, Aber Valley.

I have seen this place in my guide to North Wales birding loads of times and fancied going here for ages. Now I had an excuse. I needed Dipper for the year and this was, apparently, a good place. It was a dodgy to the very top car park, very narrow roads and steep in places. when there though I went for a small walk around the base of Carneddau (I think thats what its called) before heading back and stopping frequently to check the river. Birds noted were Robin, Blackbird, Buzzard, Fieldfare, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Wren, Dunnock, Black-headed Gull, Magpie, Jackdaw and Chaffinch. An interesting place and one I would like to visit when its good birding. No Dipper though.

23-10-10, River Clwyedog.

From a large valley to a tiny tributary of the River Clwyedog. I was off to see my friends were I was to spend the night and as i drove past this, barely 3 foot wide stream, I saw a Dipper in the stream. That will do nicely.

Upcoming news

I had to go back up to wales to do a few more jobs on the house but on this trip I had some time for a bit of birding. At the very beginning of the year I decided to let birds come to me and if I get themn for the year then great, if not then no worries. I have enjoyed the birding this year but my year list was looking a bit poor. 165 upto these visits. I would expect, with the amount of birding I do, to see 200 in the year so I am well down. I suppose missing a week in Norfolk does have an effect. The mission for these couple of days is to mop up a few I need in places I know can deliver.

22-10-10, Inner Marsh Farm RSPB

Arrived here spot on 09.00 as it opens. Nailed a bit of breakfast and then off along the path down to the hide. Lots of birds were encountered on the way, noting Rook, Jackdaw, Robin, Wren, Goldfinch and Chaffinch in the car park and Carrion Crow, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Lapwing, Linnet, Starling, Fieldfare, Greenfinch, Blue Tit and Magpie walking down to the hide. Once in the hide I set up in the far corner to the door and added Teal, Golden Plover, Grey Heron, Raven, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, Black-headed Gull, Shoveler, Pintail, Greylag Geese, Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Coot, Canada Geese, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Mute Swan, 2 Whooper Swans, Wigeon, Snipe, Moorhen, Pheasant, Dunnock, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Buzzard, Kestrel, Redshank, Blackbird, Sparrowhawk, Jay and as I was just about to leave the hide a mgnificant ring-tailed Hen Harrier flew from over the hide across the number 2 pool casing chaos before heading away from the reserve. back up to the car park and I added Redwing, Long-tailed Tit and Pied Wagtail. A successsful visit with three year ticks but this is my second visit here on the trot without Water Rail. Whats occuring?

22-10-10, Point of Ayr RSPB.

High tide had just passed whilst the forty minute drive between Inner Marsh Farm and Talacre. I parked on the beach car park, knowing the water would not be coming in any more, and insteade of walking the long trek to the hide as the hide is no-more, I waalked along the beach as far as possible to the point and sea-watched from there. Birds noted were Cormorant, Black-headed Gull, Redshank, Shelduck, Sanderling, Skylark, Herring Gull, Meadow Pipit, Carrion Crow, Curlew, Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Common Gull and Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull. Not great but a year tick in the form of the Sanderling.

22-10-10, Mercury Industrial Estate.

A weird destination for the last site of the day. This is a large industrial area, the infrastructure was put in place ie the roads, but only half of the plots had been built on, the others left as rough land. Here is a favorite place for Short-eared Owls. A few years ago I had my first Richards Pipit here along with a few Seo's. Birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Starling, Kestrel, Swallow, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Herring Gull, Grey Heron, Dunnock, Robin, Pheasant, Chaffinch, 12 Mallards flew over, Blackbird, Blue Tit and Pied Wagtail. I was there an hour or so and as the light started to fade so it starting drizzling so no chance of any owls today.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

20-10-10, News

2 Whooper Swans were reporte at Whitemoor Haye yesterday. I would have thought they would be really early records. Im sure someone out there nows the earliest birds have been seen here. Its another weekend in Wales for me coming up but I am hopfully going to Inner Marsh Farm on Friday before heading to some other birding spots. I might also get some birding in over the weedend too. Fingers crossed.

17-10-10, Alrewas GP.

There was a sighting of a Marsh Harrier on Friday at Croxall. As it is these days I didn't react to it. Would be a nice year tick and Staffs tick for me. Anyway, it was also spotted on Saturday at Alrewas GP. I hatched a plan and headed out just before dawn to get on site. The bike was loaded by 06.30 and I was off. I arrived ten minutes later it was just getting light but I couldnt see a bloody thing. Fog, thick fog. Aaaaaargh. I couldnt see twenty metres in front of me let alone a Marsh Harrier. I hung about as the sun came up and managed to hear the following. Magpie, Coot, Robin, Wren, Meadow Pipit, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Dunnock, Greenfinch, Skylark, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Reed Bunting and Pied Wagtail. I also managed to just make out a pair of Mute Swans. I decided to head over to the arboretum, slowly, and then hope the fog would lift, do the other sites and re-trace my steps. On the way to the arboretum the fog did start lifting and I added Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Mallard, Pheasant, Teal, Snipe and a Grey Heron. On the return trip the fog had dispersed but I only managed to add Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe and Pochard.

17-10-10, National Arboretum.

The fog situation had starting to disperse so as every minute went by, the more I could see. During my walk through the arboretum I noted Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Starling, Chaffinch, Canada Geese, Cormorant, Robin, Wren, Skylark, jackdaw, Tufted Duck, Meadow Pipit, Mallard, Great Tit, Pheasant, Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull, Jay and Reed Bunting.

17-10-10, Junction Pit.

As usual, a quick look at Junction Pit. You never know what might be on here, very wadery (if there is such a word). Birds noted were Blackbird, Moorhen, Blue Tit, Black-headed Gull, Carrion Crow, Lapwing, Wren, Mallard, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Wood Pigeon, Grey Heron, Jackdaw, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Long-tailed Tit, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Magpie.

17-10-10, Croxall GP.

From the arboretum it was a quick bike ride over the Tame and inti Croxall nature reserve. A slow wander and a visit to the hide got me Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Skylark, Wood Pigeon, Mallard, Coot, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Teal, Grey Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Pied Wagtail, Magpie, Linnet, Jackdaw, Mute Swan, Reed Bunting, Snipe, Redshank, Pochard, Litte Egret, Kingfisher, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Dunnock and Bullfinch. A bit quiet compared to other visits, there was also quite a few dog walkers ignoring the no dogs signs around the reserve.

16-10-10, Whitemoor Haye.

After a bit of a lie in and a few jobs I eventually dragged myself around the lanes. Birds noted were Kestrel, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Starling, Carrion Crow, Skylark, Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw, Dunnock, Green Sandpiper, Mute Swan 22 only as big machinery was ploughing nearby and these flew off minutes later, Black-headed Gull, Robin, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Magpie, Yellowhammer, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Pheasant, Lapwing, Linnet, Stock Dove, Blackbird, Reed Bunting and Mallard. Onto the pool and I added 3 Pochard, 2Tufted Duck and 6 Great Crested Grebe. Again this area was being disturbed by a big tractor mowing the grass around the pool.

16-10-10, Fradley Village Pond.

I have visited this site once before, during the summer, and also Mr Blurred Birder has, I believe, been here. It is situated just north of the small complex of shops in Fradley south and in between the village and the giant Tesco distribution centre. Last time I visited here I only walked around the lake but after reading Blurred's blog I had a wander. Birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Goldfinch, Mute Swan, Dunnock, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Pochard, Blackbird, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Skylark, Long-tailed Tit, Wood Pigeon, Great Tit, Robin, Wren, Pied Wagtail, Bullfinch, Snipe, Grey Heron, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Kestrel, Magpie, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Moorhen and House Sparrows. Well worth the wander and definately worth coming back.

16-10-10, Whitemoor Haye.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

15-10-10, Belvide Reservoir.

After an enforced absent (at my favorite time of year too!!), I am back and I decided to head over to Belvide. I was there just after dawn and, although nothing special around, I had a nice morning with plenty of species. Birds noted were Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, jay, Nuthatch, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Robin, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Black-headed Gull, Pied Wagtail, Pheasant, Teal, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Coot, Cormorant, Pochard, Mallard, Goldeneye, Reed Bunting, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull, Magpie, Dunnock, Great Tit, Willow Tit, Chaffinch, Swallow, Rook, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Meadow Pipit, Tree Sparrow, Coal Tit, Lapwing, Fieldfare, Skylark, Canada Geese, Wigeon, Shoveler, Starling, Buzzard, Gadwall, Greylag Geese, Grey Heron, Golden Plover, Peregrine, Rock Pipit (year tick), Goldcrest, Bullfinch, Collared Dove and Greenfinch. Nice.

15-10-10, Whitemoor Haye.

I was going to go to Blithfield afterwards but a) I was going mainly for the Rock Pipit which I got at Belvide, and b) I am a bit knackered after the previous weeks decorating. A quick visit home for food and the dog and I was soon at Whitemoor. A walk around the roads got me Goldfinch, Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Meadow Pipit, Pheasant, Grey Partridge, Mute Swan 80, Canada Geese, Linnet, Blue Tit, Wren, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Starling, Stock Dove, Kestrel, Chaffinch, Skylark, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Buzzard, Yellowhammer, Mallard and a very nice Merlin first chasing a Meadow Pipit before the hunter became the hunted when a Carrion Crow had a go at it. Onto the quarry pool and I added Pied Wagtail, Great Crested Grebe (I didn't count them but there was at least 15, loads for here), Wigeon 2, Coot, Pochard and Tufted Duck.