Thursday, 30 December 2010

2010 Round Up.

Its the boring bit so I will keep my roiund up sharp and too the point. At the beginning of the year I decided to not bother chasing birds and let them come to me. It started off well but two thirds through the year I was missing seeing certain birds. Whitemoor Haye got a bashing too this year. 90 visits in all but they were all worth it when I found Staffordshire's first ever Woodchat Shrike. Unbelievable when you take a moment to think about. Luck rather than skill thats for sure. In total I saw 180 species of birds (rubbish) and added 5 birds to my life list (rubbish). However I did enjoy concentrating more on the local pits like Alrewas pit, Junction pit, Croxall and of course Whitemoor Haye.

What for next year?

I have decided to go with the flow. However I would love to try and get over 250 birds for the year, that would be ace, and thats why I am having two full days in Norfolk to kick the year off and hopefully nail a few life ticks.

Thats me for a bit, thanks for reading this blog and see you next year.

30-12-10, Whitemoor Haye.

Oh well this is the last outing for the year. I wasn't bothered about going out today, things to do. However a few of the Bewick's Swans had gone missing from Elford/Fisherwick. As the Carrion Crow flies its minutes from Elford to Whitemoor and so I was hoping they had turned up on my patch. I headed on down, there was still some fog around so I decided to have a drive round and end up checking the Mute Swan flock. Birds noted were Blue Tit, Cormorant, Starling, Black-headed Gull, Lapwing, Blackbird, Magpie, Linnet, Robin, Pheasant, Green Sandpiper, Pied Wagtail, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Meadow Pipit, Wren, 261 Mute Swans and 2 Whooper Swans., No Bewicks but the two Whooper Swans made up for them.
Tomorrow I am off to spend New Years Eve in a seedy motel just outside King's Lynn, all on my own. then up sharpish to get to Titchwell to start off 2011 with, hopefully, a bang.
Happy New Year to all.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

29-12-12, A morning out in the fog

Doh, Ive put a headline on this posting. Today was pretty much horrible. After this mornings rant I set out and the fog just didnt improve at all, I put visibility down to about 60 meters which meant seeing birds today was going to be hard work. But set out I did into the murk. As it was pretty uneventful and to not waste too much of your time I will just nbame each site and list the birds there.

In each case most birds were seen, usually in hedgrows and trees, but also the odd duck (odd as in number not appearance or behaviour) was seen on the ice near the bank or flying over.

Alrewas GP.

Starling, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Robin, Wren, Black-headed Gull, Mallard, Great Tit, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Teal, Carrion Crow, Redwing, and Coot.

National Arboretum.

Black-headed Gull, Great Tit, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Wren, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Mallard, Wigeon, Goosander, Goldeneye, Canada Geese, Bullfinch, Coot, Moorhen, Chaffinch, Redwing, Goldfinch, Fieldfare, Pheasant, Jay, Teal, Greylag Geese, Grey Heron, Snipe and Mistle Thrush. I dont think thats a bad list really.

Junction Pit.

Blackbird, Reed Bunting, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Moorhen and Magpie. A pit that once showed great potential but now has low water levels and no birds.

Croxall Wides.

In the hunt for a Smew I had a quick look through the mist and saw Teal, Wigeon, Coot, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Canada Geese. I was going to go to Croxall pits after the arboretum but there was some very load gun shots as if there were some hunters around the hide area so I didnt bother going there. Not a loss really.

Whitemoor Haye.

Kestrel, Robin, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Teal, Grey Heron, Blackbird, Canada Geese, Magpie, Tree Sparrow, Great Tit, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Lapwing, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Pheasant, Song Thrush, Mute Swan, Redwing, Starling and Meadow Pipit.

Thats more than enough for today.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

28-12-10, Whitemoor Haye.

I think it has already been mentioned that I really enjoyed the recent cold spell. Everyone I know couldnt wait for it to end. Well it has, and its either raining or thick fog. I am writing this early Wednesday morning. I wanted a good days birding yesterday but it started to drizzle going around Whitemoor and then the fog came in. I had a call out late last night to Coventry and it was thick fog all the way. getting up this morning and it still fog and in Sky news it is hgere to stay till New Years Day at least. Even the weather girl said at least the fog will keep temperatures high!!! Absolute garbage, I would have -20c and be able to see anyday. To todays effort of birding and birds noted were Kestrel, Blackbird, Tree Sparrow, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Robin, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Dunnock, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Grey Partridge, Skylark, Buzzard, Wigeon heard calling from over the pits, Wren, Magpie, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Redwing, 1 Green Sandpiper flying over, Yellowhammer, 231 Mute Swans, 1 Curlew, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and a Redshank.
We will see what the rest of the week has to offer weather wise but its not looking top good.

Monday, 27 December 2010

28-12-10, WeBS Count.

I finally got round to dredging through my various notes scribbled down whilst out on the count and also remebered my login password for the BTO site. The results are as follows.
Croxall pits (including Alrewas GP and Junction Pit plus the river):- Canada Geese 238, Coot 42, Cormorant 13 (flying over), Goldeneye 19, Goosander 3, Great Crested Grebe 31, Grey Heron 3, Greylag Geese 30, Kingfisher 3, Lapwing 224, Little Grebe 2, Mallard 85, Moorhen 1, Mute Swan 21, Pochard 49, Redshank 13, Snipe 5, Teal 374, Tufted Duck 65, Black-headed Gull 12 and Lesser Black-backed Gull 17 (flying over).

Barton pits (only the one by the marina as I cannot get permission to get onto Catholme pits):- Coot 29, Mallard 212, Moorhen 15, Pochard 8, Tufted Duck 29 and Black-headed Gull 35.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

26-12-10, Whitemoor Haye.

I decided to have a slow walk around Whitemoor Haye and its gaps today. With the snow and ice covering the lanes, firlds and pool, the birds were very low in numbers. A slow walk produced 58 Tree Sparrow, 24 Goldfinch, 5 Blackbird, 32 Carrion Crow, 5 Fieldfare, 256 Mute Swan, 55 Wood Pigeon, 2 Buzzard, 23 Magpie, 1 Reed Bunting, 25 Lesser Black-backed Gull over, 3 Wren, 11 Curlew, 4 Skylark, 1 Yellowhammer, 59 Black-headed Gull flying around plus another 81 sitting on the iced up pool, about 50 Starling, 15 Blue Tits, 1 Stock Dove, 1 Robin, 12 Greenfinch, 3 Dunnock, 2 Kestrel, 27 Mallard on the pool plus about 15 overhead, 3 Great Tit, 5 Chaffinch, 2 Woodcock - a nice site tick for here, and a single Pheasant.
Not bad species wise but it was difficult birding around this site.

26-12-10, Elford.

I fancies making another trip just down the road to between Elford and Fisherwick to see the Bewick's Swans and try to get some record photos. Birds noted were 153 Mute Swans, 16 Bewick's Swans, 9 Skylark, and loads of Carrion Crows and Wood Pigeons.

One of the nice group of Bewick's Swans.

26-12-10, Croxall GP.

I headed for Croxall next. It has been nearly two years since I have seen a Smew and this was at Draycote Water. I cannot remeber the last Smew I saw around Whitemoor/Croxall area. I decided to concentrate on the river section hoping to find one. Birds noted were Kestrel, Chaffinch, Buzzard, Redwing, Fieldfare, Wren, Carrion Crow, Bullfinch, Black-headed Gull, Grey Heron, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Lapwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Goldeneye, Coot, Teal, Tufted Duck, Mistle Thrush, Redshank, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Goosander, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Reed Bunting, Rook, a group of about 50 Siskins flew over and a couple of Dunnocks.
There are some great numbers of both Redwing and Fieldfare at Croxall at the moment, easy a few hundred of each at times. The Fieldfare are very skittish so I couldnt get that near to them and these were my best efforts!!! Nuff said.
A fine few hours birding. Same tomorrow me thinks.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

25-12-10, Elford.

Any chance to slightly increase my awful year list and a few Bewicks Swans had been present near Elford village for a couple of days so today was my first chance to go and see them. After topping up the feeders at Fradley resevoir I headed to Elford and quickly found the swans. Birds noted were Mute Swan, Bewicks Swan, Skylark, Carrion Crow, Greylag Geese and a couple of White-fronted Geese of unknown, but proberbly can guess, origin. Now chill for the day.

Monday, 20 December 2010

19-12-10, Alrewas GP.

It was WeBS count day today and, due to work commitments, this is the first one for a few months. It was a dull start to the day and I was a recovering so I left the car at home and headed off towards the first pit of the day by the A38. With snow on the ground and it being very cold, 99% of the pool was frozen. There was a small bit of water in the middle that had a load of ducks and grebes on and by the spit was bare but otherwise solid white. Birds seen were Blackbird, Cormorant, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Canada Geese, Wren, Starling, Bullfinch, Robin, Redwing, Dunnock, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mallard, Greylag Geese, Coot, Redshank, Snipe, Lapwing, Pied Wagtail, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Blue Tit, Mallard and Little Grebe. I will give the results of the WeBS count at the end. Now it was a hop over the railway onto the next site.

19-12-10, National Arboretum.

This site is not covered by me on the WeBS count but the Junction Pit and Croxall are so I was checking out the ducks on the river as I walked to Croxall. Birds seen around the arboretum whilst passing through were Skylark 8 flew over, Teal, Mallard, Snipe, Robin, Carrion Crow, Moorhen, Dunnock, Wren, Little Grebe, Kingfisher, Goldeneye, Teal, Blackbird, Great Tit, Fieldfare, Goosander, Reed Bunting, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Redwing, Cormorant, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Pheasant and a Buzzard.

19-12-10, Junction Pit.

A short diversion for the Junction Pit left me very disappointed with only a single Grey Heron standing on the 100% iced pool. A Reed Bunting was calling nearby and a Wood Pigeon flew over. Staggering, not.

19-12-10, Croxall GP.

After the last visit, the main pool has now completely frozen over so counting ducks and waders was pretty easy. 9. 9 Mallards were sitting on the ice looking pretty fed up. I then caught up with a group of birders led by Dave Scattergood and we had a quiet walk upto the river to have a look at the birds on the river. Then it was home for a desperately needed breakfast. Birds noted were Kestrel, Chaffinch, Fieldfare, Skylark, Redwing, Grey Heron, Blackbird, Magpie, Bullfinch, Mallard, Lapwing, Cormorant, Black-headed Gull, Snipe, Redshank, Teal, Goldeneye, Robin, Kingfisher great views of two birds feeding by the river, had to drag myself away, Goosander, Mute Swan, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Wood Pigeon and Pheasant. The new wides at Croxall are an excellent new habitat but the birds are very edgy and it is impossible to walk around that area without upsetting the birds. With this and the frozen ground and pools I decided not to upset the birds and head back home instead.

I popped up to the marina to count the birds on the nearby pool and didnt do a proper birdwatch.

I will post the bird count later after going through ny notes.

This is the last post till xmas as I am working until 5pm xmas eve. I then go on call for a week, until NewYears Eve but I will be out doing local birding as usual.

Merry Christmas to all the readers.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

18-12-10, Whitemoor Haye.

Out at first light and things were a bit dull at the start but I perservered. A bit of a mistake really cause as I set off it started to snow and the further I went, the more it snowed. Birds noted were Blue Tit, Blackbird, Dunnock, Carrion Crow, Skylark about 40 were feeding in a field, Mallard, Starling, Wood Pigeon, Canada Geese, Black-headed Gull, Tree Sparrow, Jackdaw, Mute Swan, Wren, Chaffinch, Magpie, Pheasant, Bullfinch, Song Thrush, Buzzard and a couple of Tufted Ducks on the small bit of open water on the quarry pool. A waste of time really with the snow coming down but there you go, home for a nice fry up fro brecky now.

18-12-10, Branston GP.

After a nice breakfast and waiting untill the snow had stopped (and also a trip to FCradley to top the bird feeders up in the nature reserve) I decided to tackle the pits near Barton. Birds noted were Redwing, Robin, Buzzard, Blackbird, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Fieldfare, Carrion Crow, Snipe, Pheasant, Redshank, Coot, Gadwall, Pochard, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Buzzard, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Lapwing, Mallard, Greylag Geese, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Dunnock, Starling, Jackdaw, Litte Grebe, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Tit, Kestrel, Long-tailed Tit and a Greenfinch. The main pool was three quarters frozen but there were loads of ducks in the space available but the sandy pool and Long-tailed Duck pool were 100% frozen and 0% birdy. A good couple of houre though.

18-12-10, Willington GP.

The last couple of days has seen a few decent birds turn up at this site so what a great place to spend the rest of the afternoon. In species num,bers, today did not return a lot but I did see some nice birds. Birds noted were Blackbird, Redwing, Kestrel, Blue Tit, Reed Bunting, Dunnock, Robin, Black-headed Gull, Cormorant, Magpie, Moorhen, lesser Black-backed Gull, Teal, Gadwall, Common Gull, Mallard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Wood Pigeon, Great Bittern - in fact I saw two today and a third was seen a few minutes after I left, Mute Swan, Wren, Wigeon, Pochard, Fieldfare, Great Tit and a cracking Long-eared Owl (year and site tick). Yep, the pair of Bitterns and the LEO were the best bird today by far but at all sites there were great numnbers of Redwings and Fieldfares. A good day and tomorrow its patch work as it is the WeBS count day.

Friday, 17 December 2010

17-12-10, Burton Upon Trent

By now everyone would be aware that we are having a Waxwing erruption for what ever reasons e.g cold in Scandanavia, lots of berries in the UK. Either way there are hundreds of em and I reckon I am the only birder not to have seen any this winter. I had them earlier in the year but not recently. I was hoping for some up in Wales as there had been a good flock present about two miles form my house. They had been present for a few weeks and present on Sunday 12th Dec, but typically none were seen since. I took my camera up just in case but never got to see any. The house was finished mind, just need to flog it or rent it out now. I was going to do the usual patch birding this morning and some jobs in the afternoon but yesterday evening, checking the pager 60ish Waxwings were in Burton. These I had to go and see. I arrived at 07.50, hung around where they were seen and within 10 minutes a flock of 20 were flying over. Between then and 09.30 there were roughly 120 birds present. The light was rubbish and I had a go at photography but the light and myself were garbage. Other birds present were Starlings, Black-headed Gull and Magpie.

Croxall GP.

From Burton I was going straight to Whitemoor Haye but leaving Burton I was curious as top why cars and lorries had snow on the front of them. I soon found out on the A38. As I got to Barton it turned into a snow storm and by the time I got to Alrewas all roads were covered. I got home and hung around for an hour until the snow past and the sun came out. I headed out and decided to head to Croxall instead. It was very pleasant with no dog walkers and birds noted on the main side were Redwing, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Wren, Robin, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Mallard, Wigeon, Carrion Crow, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Chaffinch, Shoveler, Skylark, Goldeneye, Black-headed Gull, Magpie, Goosander and Gadwall. The main pool was half frozen so the ducks were present but I assumed there would be more on the river as like last week. Through to the east side and I added Rook, Kingfisher, Coot, Redshank, Little Grebe, Jackdaw and Dunnock. Very little was on the river so it was back to the car and off to Whitemoor.

Whitemoor Haye.

The quarry pool was mostly clear so I had a quick look here. Birds noted here were Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Pochard, Redshank, Goldeneye, Starling, Mallard and Chaffinch. I was going to walk around the lanes but it was very icy under foot so I took a slow drive around instead. Other birds noted were Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Mute Swan, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Magpie, Kestrel, Skylark and Great Tit.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

13-12-10, News.

No birding this weekend but last Tuesday I had a Barn Owl flying through Whitemoor Haye whilst out working. My first there. Dont worry about the lack of birding though, holiday this week although I am off to Wales for more decorating today but just waiting for dawn then will be off to Whitemoor Haye first.
I have also made a decision on my birding next year and plans already in place for the first two days of next year. Really looking forward to it. Will tell more in my review in a couple of weeks.

13-12-10, Whitemoor Haye.

I wrote the above pretty early and then waited for it to be bright enough to do some birding. It took ages this morning for some reason but eventually I was there and the birds were showing, slowly but surely. Birds noted were Magpie, Black-headed Gull, Carrion Crow, Starling, Lapwing, Tree Sparrow, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Curlew, Blackbird, Mute Swan, Robin, Wren, Merlin, Meadow Pipit, Mallard, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Wood Pigeon, Buzzard, Fieldfare, Pheasant, Jackdaw, Yellowhammer, Pied Wagtail, Long-tailed Tit, Canada Geese and Stock Dove. Although we had witnessed a thaw over the weekend, the quarry pool was still 99.9% frozen, just a small patch by the inlet was ice free.
Off to Wales now.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

5-12-10, Croxall GP.

It was just a couple of sites today before chilling out for the afternoon. I decided to go to Croxall first after last week going to Whitemoor Haye so early and not getting many birds. It was just getting light in Alrewas so i set off and, passing Whitemoor haye, the fog came in. Doh. I carried on to Croxall and was planning on sitting it out but as I got there it wasn't bad at all. The complete lake was frozen so any ducks or geese seen would be fly-overs or on the River Tame. So it was from the car park up to the hide. Birds noted were Canada Geese, Fieldfare, Goosander, Black-headed Gull, lesser Black-backed Gull, Blackbird, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Carrion Crow, Marsh Tit, Redwing, Blue Tit, Grey Heron, Wood Pigeon, Goldfinch, 30+ Greenfinch, and about 15 Lapwing on the ice. It was not worth going into the hide so it was straight through to the east side. Again the lake was completely frozen so I decided to head around the back of the lake towards the river hoping for the ducks including, hopefully, a Smew, fingers crossed eh. Birds noted were Rook, Skylark, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Teal, Mallard, Goldeneye, Kingfisher, Coot, Greylag Geese, Redshank, Little Grebe and a couple of Pheasants. There was some great numbers of ducks on the river in the new wides, not suprising really as every bit of still water is frozen. At one point a group of about 30 Goldeneye flew down the river plus a few already on the river. From here back to thye car all I added was a Jay.

5-12-10, Whitemoor Haye.

With the pool completely frozen bar a small patch by the inlet I just concentrated on the lanes. Birds noted were Tree Sparrow, Wren, Starling, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Buzzard, Lapwing, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Magpie, Robin, Wigeon heard in the distance from the river, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Wood Pigeon, Fieldfare, 11 Grey Partridge, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Canada Geese, Skylark, 312 Mute Swan, Long-tailed Tit, Snipe and a Pied Wagtail.
I was looking at a group of 6 Lapwing when I noticed a bird move from the edge of the scope, then another, then another one. Skylark and in total 55 feeding in the field. Superb. It was a day for another big group of birds too. As I approached the field with the swans in a group of Wood Pigeon flew over and there was easy 2500 to 3000 of them, if not more, they just kept coming. Unbelievable.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

4-12-10, Back garden.

On call for another week so I0 was planning on doing a couple of local sites at least today but the weather weas not the greatest. I was up about 4am and walking around Tescos at 6am, took the dog for a walk at 7am around the back fields and went home for brecky. Unfortunately it was very foggy throughout so it would have been a waste of time going out. A bit later it started to clear up but I was called out, then it started raining and hasnt stopped all afternoon. I did however decide to make a load of fat cakes for the birds - mixing bird food, raisons, and crushed nuts in with melted suet and mold in yogurt pots. Whilst doing this and watching TV, I was doing a garden list as there was good numbers of birds. Birds noted were Collared Dove 5, Starling 22, House Sparrow 8, Blue Tit 3, Chaffinch 4, Great Tit 2, Blackbird 6, Black-headed Gull 7 flew low over, Wood Pigeon 5, Coal Tit 3, Brambling 1 with 1 Siskin and made a few visits during the day, Dunnock 3, Pied Wagtail 1 and 3 Robins. No sign of the Zebra Finch today but that doesnt mean its not around anymore. See you tomorrow.

3-12-10, News.

I was sitting at home after work, mid afternoon, when mother shouted me to have a look at the bird on the bird table. I got up expecting to see a House Sparrow or Chaffinch when I saw what my mother had seen, a Zebra Finch. No doubt an escapee from somewhere but a very nice bird for the garden. It made several visits to the table for the rest of the afternoon but I kept missing it hence no photo for you.