Monday, 29 November 2010

28-11-10, Whitemoor Haye.

After yesterdays big trek around various sites I was left pretty knackered. That and some things to do today meant just a little bit of birding today. First port of call was Whitemoor Haye and after a very cold night and the sun still not up over the horizon, the birds had not come out to play. It was very quiet. Birds noted were Wren, Robin, Carrion Crow, Tree Sparrow, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Lapwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Cormorant, Skylark, Mute Swan 4, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Buzzard, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch and Great Tit. Well quiet. Onto the quarry pool and things were not different. there was a group of about 15 Black-headed Gulls standing on the ice, huddled together and then 30 or so Wigeon on a small gap in the ice and that was it. Home time and shopping!!

28-11-10, circa Alrewas.

After doing various bits I sat down, turned the telly on and noticed the East Anglian derby was on. Could be a good match I suppose, took one look outside and decided the dog needed walking. Armed with only my camera (left my bins in the car by mistake) I headed off towards the fields around the River Trent and around Alrewas. A pleasant walk, a few photos took and birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Starling, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, House Sparrow, Carrion Crow, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Redwing, Goldfinch, Fieldfare, Grey Heron, Long-tailed Tit, Mallard, Moorhen, Snipe, Kestrel, Wren, Mute Swan, Robin, Canada Geese, Chaffinch and Jackdaw. See you next weekend.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


I think many of us was surprised as we all got out of our pits this morning to discover snow on the ground. It was only around the inch mark but I for one love a bit of snow. It transforms our countryside for the better. Its just a shame our transport network has a total meltdown with anything over a centimetre of snow. I love the cold weather, the colder the better, and couldn't wait to kit up and get birding. I am on call now for a couple of weeks so am stuck with local birding, so I decided to leave the car at home, put on my wellies and stride out into the sunrise.

Alrewas GP.

First stop the gravel pit by the A38 and access here is getting worse. They have blocked the access by the lay-by and now if you go in via the sewage works and walk around the small pool, there is a brand new post and barb wire fence. Why? It makes no sense. I am going to have to find the old Salters Way route on the internet and find the correct route in. To the birding and there was plenty of wildfowl on the lake and also passing over as the distant guns started the killings. Birds noted were Pochard, Coot, Tufted Duck, Wren, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Shoveler, Moorhen, Mallard, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Grey Heron, Black-headed Gull, Wigeon, Great Crested Grebe, Carrion Crow, Meadow Pipit, Cormorant, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, Snipe, Lapwing, Starling, Redwing and Fieldfare. A nice start. Over the railway and into.......

National Arboretum.

The birding on this site has been pretty slow this year so I decided to take in a lot more of this site than I usually would. Birds noted were Pied Wagtail, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Skylark a flock of around 150 flew low and straight over my head and over towards Croxall GP, Redwing, Blackbird, Robin, Snipe 30+ birds were seen lifting from in between the trees as I walked round, in various areas, Fieldfare, Blue Tit, Black-headed Gull, Wren, Pheasant, Mallard, Teal, Chaffinch, Goosander several pairs were either on the river, flying overhead, or singles flying along the river - a good day for them, Moorhen, little Grebe, Canada Geese, Cormorant, Goldfinch, Greylag Geese, starling, Sparrowhawk, Lapwing, Jay, Magpie, Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock, Great Tit, Goldcrest, Grey Heron, and a single Mute Swan on the river. A pretty good list for here but some of the birds were hard work. I have never seen those numbers of Skylarks in one go before. It was amazing as they flew low and directly over.

Junction Pit.

As usual I checked out Junction Pit and found the water levels still very low so nothing was on the sandy side. On the pool there was only very low numbers of Reed bunting, Blackbird, Mallard, Goosander, Goldeneye, Coot, Wood Pigeon, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron, Carrion Crow and a Pheasant calling. I bet there wasnt twenty birds in total. Rubbish.

Croxall Wides.

As I was only a few yards from the viaduct I decided to have a quick look to see if anything was on the wides. Another waste of time with only Black-headed Gull, a few Snipe and a couple of Lapwing.

Croxall GP.

Usually, after the arboretum I would head over to Whitemoor Haye as, having already walked a few miles in wellies, fatigue would usually be setting in. But today I strode on in the direction of Croxall as, whilst in the arboretum, I noticed a big flock of Lapwings so I thought it would be worth a look. Upto and from the first Hide I noted Wren, Chaffinch, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Buzzard, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Mistle Thrush, Dunnock, Grey Heron, Coot, Lapwing, Blue Tit, Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Robin, Goosander, Canada Geese, 10 Dunlin, 7 Redshank, Goldeneye, Canada Geese, about 23 Snipe around the lake edge, and Magpie. through the tunnel and into the east side and I walked around the whole edge of the reserve adding Jackdaw, Skylark, Long-tailed Tit, Cormorant, Rook, Pintail a drake was on th river - was this the same bird that was at Whitemoor Haye last Monday as its an unusual bird around here, Meadow Pipit and Wigeon. Heading out of the reserve I added Greenfinch and Bullfinch. Well worth the visit, even though I was outnumbered by fishermen!!!!

Whitemoor Haye.

It isnt easy walking miles in wellies. Fortunately I have muck boots which are great boots to walk in, even though my feet were starting to hurt and I still had about three miles to walk all around Whitemoor before a mile back home. With gritted teeth I persevered. Birds noted were Grey Heron, Blackbird, Redwing, Chaffinch, Robin, Wren, Carrion Crow and Dunnock on entering Whitemoor Haye. At the pool I added Teal, lapwing, Mallard, Wigeon, Magpie, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Goldeneye, Cormorant and Black-headed Gull. From the pool I wlked around the rough track and added Starling, Wood Pigeon, Pied Wagtail, Skylark, Blue Tit, Sparrowhawk, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, Mute Swan 254 of them, Golden Plover, Goldfinch, Buzzard, Grey Partridge 5, and Tree Sparrow. On the way out I had a sit down on the barriers by the pool, had another quick scan and added Redshank, Snipe, Dunlin, Linnet, Greenfinch, Canada Geese and to finish off, a fine male Bullfinch.
after the huge group of Skylarks in the arboretum, I came across another flock as I was counting the Mute Swans. This time there was around 60 feeding in the same field. Fantastic. Hometime now as im knackered.

Monday, 22 November 2010

22-11-10, South Ferriby, Lincolnshire.

I had an extra day off after working last week and I had a choice of where to go. Rutland Water held Lesser Yellowlegs, Smew, Grey Phalarope and Long-tailed Duck. There was also a Rough-legged Buzzard in North Lincolnshire. It was a bit late in the year to worry about increasing the year list so there was only one choice and that was the lifer. I arrived at dawn and parked opposite a dog and cat kennels overlooking lots or arable land and a cement works. There weather was not the nicest with lots of showers but after an hour it started to brighten up. Another hour later and there was no sign so I went for a small drive west were I found a lane that went down to a bridge. I drove down it checking the fields in case it was feeding on the ground. Still no luck so it was back to were a began. After three hours of looking with no results I headed back down the motorways. Birds noted were Wren, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Curlew, Blackbird, Great Tit, skiens of Pink-footed Geese (year tick), Kestrel, Pied Wagtail, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Carrion Crow, Pheasant, Wood Pigeon, Fieldfare, Linnet and Blue Tit. Oh well, its proberbly better to go and dip rather than not go at all.

22-11-10, Cannock Chase - Rifle Range.

The chase has been throwing up some nice birds recently so I picked up the dog and went hunting. Around the rifle range a Great Grey Shrike and a Black Redstart had been present the previous day so this was the place to have a good walk around. I noted Magpie, Carrion Crow, Raven, Goldcrest, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Pheasant, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Wood Pigeon, Jay, Treecreeper and Yellowhammer. No sign of either bird today. Time for tea and cake.

22-11-10, Cannock Chase - Marquis Drive.

Its nice hear. Seating, shelter, feeding station and a cafe for a cup of tea and a bit of cake. Not many birds though, I noted Carrion Crow, Magpie, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Wood Pigeon, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.

I was getting a bit tired now so it was home time but I decided to have a quick drive-thru of Whitemoor Haye.

22-11-10, Whitemoor Haye.

I was going to mainly concentrate on the wildfowl on the quarry pool but, to begin with, I headed for the swans. I noted Black-headed Gull, Magpie, Starling, Carrion Crow, Robin, pheasant, Blackbird, Mute Swan 228, and Lapwing. On to the quarry pool and the I added 33 Mallard, 70 Wigeon, 62 Pochard, 14 Teal, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 1 male Pintail, 15 Tufted Duck, 5 Goldeneye, 1 Redshank, Canada Geese, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wood Pigeon, Buzzard, Linnet, Kestrel and Blue Tit.

a bit of a mixed weekend really, the high of the Pied-billed Grebe, the low of the Rough-legged Buzzard, and who knows about the Laughing Gull.

21-11-10, Whitemoor Haye.

A good night out on Friday night led to me resting for the day yesterday so I was fresh this morning. Unfortunately I had to go to work in the morning for a couple of hours but I managed to get round Whitemoor first thing. Birds noted were Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Tree Sparrow, Carrion Crow, Pheasant, Blackbird, Starling, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Lapwing, Chaffinch, Grey Partridge, Canada Geese, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Redwing, Merlin, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Linnet, Great Black-backed Gull, 279 Mute Swans, a single Whooper Swan, Grey Heron, Greylag Geese, Black-headed Gull, Great Tit, Yellowhammer, Buzzard, Green Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail, Cormorant and Fieldfare. It was getting on a bit so I didnt have time to have a good look over the lake, just a quick glance and I noted Mallard, Pochard, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe and Goldeneye. Not a bad haul.

21-11-10, Whitemoor Haye.

Back from work and it was back to Whitemoor to check out the pool. Birds noted were Wigeon, Mallard, Pochard, Redshank, Goldeneye, Teal, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Black-headed Gull and Blackbird. I then decided to have another look at the swans and added Grey Partridge, Kestrel, Buzzard, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Chaffinch, 286 Mute Swans, Magpie and Starlings. No Whooper swan in sight but there are several hollows in the field so proberbly in one of those.

21-11-10, Willington GP.

I had a good reason for coming here and this will become apparent later. Also some Bewick's Swans and a Cetti's Warbler had been present recently. I walked up to the top platform and then back before a small walk around the pond near the train track. Birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Robin, Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Cormorant, Shoveler, Canada Geese, Goosander, Lapwing, Redwing, Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock, Mute Swan, Magpie, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Moorhen, Carrion Crow, Wren, Goldfinch, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Fieldfare, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Green Woodpecker. I would have gone to the canal scrape but I wanted to get to Foremark reservoir for the gull roost and was running out of time.

21-11-10, Foremark Reservoir.

A Laughing Gull was reported last night at Foremark so there was only one place to be late afternoon. After a managed to get through the broken entrance gate, I joined the quite large group of birders hoping to see the latest American gull to grace Foremark, after the Franklin's Gull only a month earlier. Birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Grey Heron, Great Black-backed Gull, Cormorant, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Fieldfare, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit, Redwing, Wren, Dunnock, Little Grebe and Carrion Crow. No Laughing Gull but I kept myself busy trying to find the present Yellow-legged Gulls but they are impossible (for me anyway) when they are on the water. There was also a couple of Caspian Gulls around, one of which I got onto but I was not sure of its id myself so not noted. I had no problem with the Common Gulls which I think are the prettiest birds out of the gulls. Home time now and back to the gull book to get learning.

19-11-10, News then birding.

To start with, the answers to the bird groups.

Herons are a seige.
A fling of Dunlin
A cover or raft of Coots
Choughs are chattering
A charm of Goldfinches
A band or a party of Jays
A conspiracy, unkindness or constable of Ravens
A congress or murder of Crows
Goshawks are a flight
And a concentration of Kingfishers.

19-11-10, Hollingworth Lake CP.

News broke of a Pied-billed Grebe over a week ago but I was working last weekend so couldnt go. I was checking the pager and internet every day and the bird was still on the lake. These birds are reknowned for long staying. Boy was I glad of that, I really need a life tick to keep my list going. I was up at 04.00 and was confronted with thick fog. I set sail by 05.00 and all the way above Manchester was thick fog. I arrived by 07.30 though, in one peice, and set about heading towards the south east corner. It wasn't long before I was feasting my eyes on the PIED-BILLED GREBE. It was hanging around by the reeds just off the road. Unfortunately I couldnt get any decent phots as it was always behind some vegetation. It then started heading off over the other side of the bay and a regular observer told me it would head to the hide to feed in the bay so we hot footed it round to the hide. We were there some twenty minutes but no sign of the bird so I headed back to the bay were I first saw it and it was still there under some trees on the far side, enjoying some sun. A cracking bird and the sun bought out its rufous neck. The band on the bill had faded a little. Other birds noted here were Robin, Wren, Jay, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Black-headed Gull, Canada Geese, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Bullfinch, Dunnock and Mallard. After watching the bird for a bit it was time to get off to Wales. My house is still empty so I needed to turn the heating on to protect the pipes for the winter. My best image of the Pied-billed Grebe.

19-11-10, Kinmel Bay.

A foggy drive through Cheshire and then into a clear Wales. I had a bit of time to spare and decided to head for Kinmel bay where a Snow Bunting was present yesterday. It was worth a walk and a bit of sea-watching. Birds noted were Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Sanderling, Common Scoter, Knot, Ringed Plover, Starling, Wren and Great Crested Grebe. Nothing special but a nice hour.

from here it was to my house to sort out the heating and then start heading home. I headed for Astbury Mere where a Great Northern Diver had been present for some time. Unfortunately, a) I couldnt find it and b) it was thick fog everywhere. Home time.

Monday, 15 November 2010

15-11-10, News.

A bird free weekend as I was working all weekend. I was going to give the answers to the quiz tonight and post a few more up but I cannot find my paperwork. Will try tomorrow. Friday I am off for a mega so fingers crossed it stays around a bit longer and a long weekend should see plenty of birding and beer.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

9-11-10, Fun.

No birding for a bit so its play time. Have a go at matching the bird with their name when they are in a group. For example Flock of birds. get it. Remember, its just for fun.

1 - Chattering
2 - Cover or raft
3 - Congress or murder
4 - Fling
5 - Charm
6 - Flight
7 - Seige
8 - Band or party
9 - Concentration
10 - Conspiracy, unkindness or constable

And the birds.

a - herons
b - dunlin
c - coots
d - choughs
e - goldfinches
f - jays
g - ravens
h - crows
i - goshawk
j - kingfishers

Good luck and I will post the answers next week foolowed by some more. If you want to send them me to check then no probs.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

7-11-10, Whitemoor Haye.

Another rubbish nights sleep plus the right amount of beer last night and I was up nice and early to head to Whitemoor where, due to the wing, it was much fresher. I had a slow steady walk around the lanes, with the birding being very slow to start. Birds noted were Tree Sparrow which I hung around for about half an hour to photo but they were not showing well enough, Robin, Lapwing, Starling, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Magpie, Jackdaw, Skylark, Blue Tit, Black-headed Gull, Canada Geese, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, lesser Black-backed Gull, 232 Mute Swans and a single Whooper Swan, Buzzard, Pheasant, Great Tit, Redwing, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Meadow Pipit, Yellowhammer, Grey and Pied Wagtail and Greenfinch. The last five birds all came by the field entrance where there was a huge heap of muck which has now been spread on the fields leaving some puddles and mud. the Grey Wagtail was a nice bonus too. I keep records and lists of every site and visits and I looked through the usual sites a couple of months ago and was wandering if I had mixed up a Grey Wag with a Yellow Wag. Onto the pool and it was not as bright as yesterday so I could pick out all of the birds. These included Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe and Tufted Duck.

7-11-10, Branston GP.

Ive been wanting to get to this site for ages as the birding is always good, and also a possible American Golden Plover was seen here not long ago. Heading up to the forst view point I noted Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, Starling, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greenfinch, Black-headed Gull, Chaffinch, Blackbird and Buzzard. The first view point is at the corner of the main lake. There were many birds feeding around the edges plus a large group flying around the lake. Birds noted were Coot, Lapwing, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Teal, Golden Plover there must have been about 200 flying around the lake before heading off plus another 50+ birds in with the Lapwings, Greylag Geese, Skylark, Shelduck, Canada Geese, Wigeon, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Pochard, gadwall, Goldeneye, Wren, Robin, Grey Heron and Mallard. Off towards Sandy Pit before back to the car and I added Magpie, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Bullfinch, Moorhen, 13 Curlew on Sandy Pit (same number as on my last visit a couple of months ago - coincidence or do this group just stay here), Kestrel, Blue Tit, Rook, Reed bunting and Pied Wagtail. A nice visit and I actually bumped into another couple of birders. A first here having ever only see Dave Scattergood here.

No birding next weekend as I am working everyday but I have a long weekend after so might go somewhere.

6-11-10, Whitemoor Haye.

With the on set of Autumn/Winter its down to just weekend birding. A few busy days had caught up with me and with an almost sleepless night on Friday night it was just a couple of sites today as i had a busy Saturday night ahead. After a very mild week it was nice to leave the house at dawn with the weather feeling very fresh. Whitemoor Haye first and I parked up at the house and headed off along the roads. Birds noted were Wren, Tree Sparrow, Robin, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Mallard, Starling, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Buzzard, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Linnet, Skylark, Pheasant, Lapwing, Stock Dove, Great Tit, Grey Partridge, Dunnock, Magpie, Blue Tit, Mute Swan, Yellowhammer, reed bunting, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Kestrel which didnt want its photo taken. No Whooper Swan today with the Mute Swans. Onto the lake and with the sun being very low and very bright today I could make out loads of birds but only what sp[ecies on a small part of the lake cause of the brightness. I did make out Tufted Duck, Pochard, teal, Great Crested Grebe and Lesser Black-backed Gull and Redshank plus Goldfinch in the trees behind.

6-11-10, Croxall GP.

A quick dash home for some breakfast then it was off to Croxall to see what was about.A walk up the main track got me Dunnock, Wren, Coot, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow, Robin, Magpie, Skylark, Long-tailed Tit, Wood Pigeon, Mallard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Grey heron, Black-headed Gull, Redwing, Blackbird, Redshank and Lapwing. Instead of going into the hide I headed straight for the east side and walked to the hide. After looking at a birdless pool for tem minutes I headed back to the main hide adding nothing from venturing under the railway line. From the main hide I added Goldeneye, Wigeon, Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Pheasant, Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail and about 20 Snipe. I had a good look through the Snipe but couldnt find any Jack Snipe unfortunately. Nothing was added on the way back to the car so it was off shopping, a quick hours rest watching the first half of Wales v Australia in the rugby before heading out to do the local fireworks dispaly and partake in consuming a few fine ales afterwards. Good fun.