Monday, 28 February 2011

27-2-11, Whitemoor Haye.

A bit of a disappointing day really. Got up a bit early and wrote Saturdays blog up and then got too involved with bird journal. By the time I was ready to go out it was way past 09.00. I parked up by the house and had a casual walk around the lanes. The weather was much better than Saturday and the birding was a bit better too. Birds noted were Tree Sparrow, Wren, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, Black-headed Gull, Robin, Corn Bunting, Song Thrush, Treecreeper, Chaffinch, Yellowhammer, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Little Owl, Reed Bunting, Blackbird, Grey Heron, Canada Geese, Mute Swan 90, Lapwing, Mallard, Magpie, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Long-tailed Tit and Fieldfare. I was going to go elsewhere but then the heavens opened, went home to have lunch, started watching the rugby, then the football and that was the weekend over. Not sure what is happening this year but the Treecreeper was my fourth new bird for Whitemoor this year. On a roll!!!

I wrote Saturdays blog a bit quick and missed a few things out about the trip to the dove. The chap whose house us birders and twitchers had invaded was a decent enough chap and was happy to tell how he came across the bird. I was quite surprised to hear that when he rang RSPB to tell them about this strange Turtle Dove like bird, on his lawn, in the middle of winter, they replied saying they were not really surprised as an Oriental Turtle Dove was present around Chipping Norton since mid December. They kept this bird a bit quiet for about two months. I wonder what other birds are reported, kept quiet, then disappear? Anyway this one was outed and it was my first ever twitch which involved using someones kitchen as a hide. Quality.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

26-2-11, Chipping Norton.

An Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove had turned up in the Cotswolds town of Chipping Norton - I am sure Jeremy Clarkson is a resident there. The first few days of the twitch, by all accounts, was pretty mad with long cues and fights breaking out etc. A week on I decided to go for it. I decided to get down there early, park up and get whatever view of the bird, be it a distant one in the trees or from inside the chaps house, feeding on the patio. I set off at 04.50, got petrol in Lichfield and then headed off to Chipping Norton. A very good drive down and at 06.20 I was there. I drove up and down The Leys and there was no sign of any birder. Was I the first today? Was it viewed being devoured by a Sparrowhawk yesterday? I parked by Travis Perkins, got out my laptop, attached the dongle and checked. No it had not been taken by a Sparrowhawk. I put my waterproof trousers and coats on, expecting the long wait in the rain which was forecast, a set off for 41 The Leys. When i arrived some five minutes later there was 6 other birders which had magically appeared from nowhere. As the queue's lengthened, the house owner appeared, gave some instructions and let us in his house at about 07.00. we were all bundled into his very warm house including under floor heating, birding in comfort. He already had a few birds in the garden and as he told the waiting people where it turns up, what time etc someone found it in a distant tree in the left hand garden. I was on the right hand side of the kitchen but managed to contort myself to get views of a cracking ORIENTAL TURTLE DOVE. Come on. I kept getting half decent views but with where it was and the dull morning there was going to be no chance of photos. There was lots of people queing through the chaps house and with lots of clothes on and the heating on I decided to make my exit, giving others a chance to see it. Other birds noted were Song Thrush, Robin, Carrion Crow, Dunnock, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Bullfinch, House Sparrow and Woodpigeon. From here I had a couple of sites to visit but as I got to my car the heavens opened so I decided to head home.

Whitemoor Haye.

Eventually the rain stopped and I decided to get out and do my patch. The last few weeks I have been busy putting all of my records onto Bird Journal, the excellent bird database (and other flora and fauna). I eventually put in all of my records since I started birding in 1999, 1700 of them. Sounds a lot but it will be nothing compared to many other birders. It has been a time consuming exercise but good fun with many memories coming back. Back to today and birds noted on thie very windy afternoon were Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Tree Sparrow, Robin, Buzzard, Kestrel, Skylark, Blackbird, Wren, Dunnock, Little Owl in his/her usual tree, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Lapwing 12 in the field near Sittles Farm and another 209 by the quarry pool, 97 Mute Swan, Pied Wagtail, 2 Grey Partridge, Starling and loads of Magpies. At the quarry pool I added 4 Goldeneye, 15 Tufted Duck, 89 Wigeon, 41 Pochard, 2 Oystercatchers, 10 Mallard, Blue Tit and a load of Canada Geese. Afternoon off now for 6 nations rugby. See you tomorrow.

25-2-11, Chasewater CP.

On Friday I finish at 16.00 and last week I was going to head over to Chasewater for the gull roost but I was not to well. This week I was feeling better so I was there for about 16.40, got myself in position and started scanning the white dots on the small puddle. The Iceland Gull had been reported all week so I was really hoping it wouldnt decided to roost at Blithfield like it did on my last visit. Birds noted were Mallard, Coot, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Pied Wagtail, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Tufted Duck and the good old Iceland Gull flew in shortly after 17.00. I hung around for a little bit after but with my main bird seen, I was gone by 17.10 to get the car ready for the morning.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

20-2-11, Cannock Chase - Freda's Grave.

I was feeling a bit brighter today so my plan was to target Cannock Chase for a couple of birds. My first place was going to be the rifle range but approaching Rugeley it was getting a bit foggy. Reaching the sharp left hand bend where you enter thr rifle range area it was almost a pea souper, I couldnt see ten yards ahead let alone a Great Grey Shrike in some trees. A bit of umming and arring and cursing and I headed for Freda's Grave to see if it was any better. It was, slightly. I cut my losses and parked and had a walk. Here the fog was not too bad so I had a steady walk around the area. Birds noted were Chaffinch, Robin, Carrion Crow, Wren, Jackdaw, Great Tit, Blackbird, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dunnock, Magpie and Green Woodpecker. Hardly going to set the birding world on fire. Where now?

Rifle Range.

I was passing so I parked up and took the plunge. Fortunately the fog was very patchy and most of the time around the shooting butts area there was pretty good visibility. Birds noted were Great Tit, Robin, Chaffinch, Coal tit, Long-tailed Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Song Thrush, Woodlark (year tick), Woodpigeon and 2 Mistle Thrushes. I was a bit suprised to find a Woodlark in mid February so had a good look at the bird to make sure it was said species, which it was, and later I was told that this is about the right time for them to start coming back. Nice.

Whitemoor Haye.

With breakfast being needed it was a a quick dash home then back out to the good old faithful site for a slow walk around. At least here there was a bit less fog. Birds noted were Robin, Chaffinch, Tree Sparrow, 155 Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Lapwing -the flock was up to around the 1000 mark today but were very flighty around the area, Dunnock, Magpie, Wren, Reed Bunting, Starling, Buzzard, Mute Swan, Grey Partridge, 103 Fieldfare, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Moorhen, Kestrel, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll (site tick) - a few were in the trees with Siskins and a couple of Cormorants passed over. At the pool I added 15 Teal, 9 Tufted Duck, 28 Pochard, 145 Wigeon, Canada Geese, 12 Mallard, 2 Oystercatchers and some Long-tailed Tits.

Branston GP.

I was feeling a bity tired now and in hindsight should have called it a day but I decided to head to Branston gravel pit for the first time this year. On arrival I saw localbirding Richard just finishing his session there, reeling off a nice list he had recorded and I set off hoping for a year tick in the form of a Green Sandpiper which he had seen today. Birds noted around this excellent site were Robin, Chaffinch, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Fieldfare, Coot, Tufted Duck, Teal, Mallard, Blackbird, Wigeon, Oystercatcher, Grey Partridge, Canada Geese, Shelduck, Little Egret, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Carrion Crow, Cormorant, Wren, Dunnock, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Redshank, Pheasant, Buzzard, Green Sandpiper, Stock Dove, kestrel, Starling and Green Woodpecker. Not too bad really, just missed a Ruff which Richard had noted but got the Green Sandpiper for my year list.

19-2-11, Whitemoor Haye.

I was very tempted to go for the Oriental Turtle Dove which is gracing Chipping Norton with its presence but a few things put me off, mainly the hoards of birders which would be there and what sounds like rubbish parking and also I came down with a stinker of a cold on Friday night so all I managed was a trek around the lanes at Whitemoor and after this I was really tired. The weather in the morning was rubbish and it was meant to be better in the afternoon. The only change from the mornings rain was less heavier rain. With this and the fact that when I got to Whitemoor I noticed I had forgot to put my tripod in the car, the birding was going to be tough. Birds noted around the lanes were Carrion Crow, Magpie, Robin, Blackbird, a good flock of around 600 to 700 Lapwing, Woodpigeon, Black-headed Gull, Tree Sparrow, 3 Grey Heron, Canada Geese, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Wren, Mallard, 115 Mute Swan, Mistle Thrush, Starling, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Cormorant and one singing Skylark. On to the pool and there was not a lot to add, only Pochard and Wigeon.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

17-2-11, Loughborough

A bit of a bonus today when a couple of Ravens flew overhead whist I was working on the towpath. A nice bonus year tick.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

12-2-11, Home.

I was a bit unsure about todays biring. I was involved in a car, transit and lorry crash on Friday morning. I was the innocent party as for some reason a car started to pass a lorry on a bend as I was passing the lorry and the connection was made. Fortunately we were all ok and this morning the expected aches and pains did not materialise. I had my brecky and was just messing around when I had a look outside at the feeders and the usual House Sparrows looked a bit different. I looked again, grabbed my moms bins and on the feeders were four Lesser Redpolls. A great addition to the garden and year list for me and my moms first Redpolls. With a couple of House Sparrows on one feeder and the four Redpols on the other there was a great size comparison.

Whitemoor Haye.

I was looking forward to getting round Whitemoor pain free and get some birding done and what a morning it was. The sun was shining although the wind was chilly but the birds were reacting to the sun with many in song. Birds noted were Tree Sparrow, Wren, Robin, Woodpigeon, Grey Heron, Skylark, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Red-legged Partridge 1, Corn Bunting 3 and in full rattle, Magpie, Reed Bunting, Dunnock, Pheasant, Blue Tit, Grey Partridge 1, Linnet, Chaffinch, Yellowhammer, Mute Swan 101, Buzzard, Fieldfare, Stock Dove, Great Tit, Starling, Kestrel, Song Thrush, Black-headed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, Cormorant 1, and Lesser Black-backed Gull. I then had a look on the quarry pool and added Mallard 35, Wigeon, Goldeneye 50, Tufted Duck 48, Teal 45, Pochard 159, Oystercatcher 1, Lapwing 4 and 6 Curlew. A reet pleasure to get round there this morning.

Albert Village Lake

I was targeting a couple of birds for the rest of the days birding and the first one was a Glaucous Gull. Its been a few years since my last one and was really keen to get one asap and this was the place. I arrived on site and headed towards a group of gulls on the water, positioning myself so I could watch them without the bright sun affecting me. Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls had also recently made an appearance and I was going to try and have a go at thses too but I forgot to put my books in the car so there was no chance of getting them Birds I noted were Green Woodpecker, Canada Geese, Robin, Woodpigeon, Coot, Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Skylark, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Snipe, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Dunnock, Glaucous Gull and Great Tit. I was on site for an hour before the Glaucous Gull turned up and a smart 3rd winter.

Cannock Chase - Rifle Range.

After going home for some lunch I decided to watch the Man Utd - Man City match as my back was a touch sore. As it ended I decided to go to Cannock Chase as the Great Grey Shrike had been showing in the morning. I arrived on site and there seemed to be quite a lot of people around, lots of cars and signposts for an event. I parked up and headed for the shooting butts when I saw loads of tents around the area. There was no chance of the bird being around the shooting butts and I didn't know where the trig point was so I turned around after 100 yards and decided to head elsewhere. I did note Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit and Magpie.

Chasewater CP.

I ended the day at an almost waterless Chasewater for the gull roost. An Iceland Gull had been roosting here for a few weeks now so this was my last target for the day. I sat myself down my the little castle and started the process of going through the gulls. Yawn. Birds noted were Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Mallard, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Goosander, Pied Wagtail, Lapwing, Goldeneye, Common Gull, possible Yellow-legged Gull, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Chaffinch and Great Black-backed Gull. The possible Yellow-legged Gull was on the far bank. The bird was showing yellowish legs and a light mantle than the black backs but darker than the Herring Gulls but it was at such a distance and the light was starting to fade I could not get good views. Again I also forgot my books so this will go down as unsure. I know what my homework is tonight.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

6-2-11, Whitemoor Haye.

Saturday was a painful day but turned out to be very good, more later. With more painkillers first thing I headed out to Whitemoor and could hardly stand up the wind was that strong. I also could hardly hear anything as the wind roared past my face but this morning the birding took a bit of a back space, the main aim was to get walking again. With one crutch I hobblrd round and noted Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Tree Sparrow, Blackbird, Magpie, Black-headed Gull, Wren, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Lapwing, redwing, Kestrel, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Starling, Fieldfare, Robin, Pied Wagtail, Canada Geese and Linnet. It took me two hours to get round and I was very glad to get back into the car. It can only have done my back good. On the way home I stopped off at the quarry pool and added Mallard, Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck and nine Curlew.

Since I started birding I have always kept notes on each site and when. These are all printed up as well as kept on the computer using a database. One database I used was British Birds version 7. All of my popular sites were on there and I could add when necassary. With my new laptop version 7 would not work so I bought version 9. I downloaded it but it was basically very disappointing. Most of the bits from version 7 were gone, basically you had more pics and sound but thats it. After reading Blurred Birders account of Bird Journal I had a good look at that on Saturday morning, bought it, and spent most of Saturday and most of Sunday evening inputting my data. Its brilliant. I will put a link to Martyn's site and description but it is well worth getting it if you hanve not got a database yet.

Friday, 4 February 2011

2-2-11, Park Hall CP.

Went and did a site visit today in Stoke so spent my lunch time trying to find the Long-eared Owl but failed in finding any. It was a bit windy at the top of the pines and I was wondering whether they roost in more sheltered areas during windy days. Anyway headed back to the car (still using crutches I might add) and thought I saw Marsh/Willow Tit so stood around. Then a Blue Tit appeared with food in its mouth and flew straight into a thick bramble patch then flew off in the opposite direction. Could this bird really be feeding young so early?
I am writing this early onsaturday morning. I have been asked to cover on call for work over the weekend, so as the weather forecast is rubbish, six nations is on and the back is still painful I think birding will be pretty limited but I will try my best to get out.
Cracking first game last night in the six nations saw Wales narrowly defeated by the English.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

2-2-11, circa Croxall

The back is slowly getting better, only had Monday off from work although managed to do some work at home on my laptop as well as reading various blogs about the Black-throated Diver at Clayhanger. I have learnt some useful tips for my next diver find. Five Whooper Swans are grazing in a field just after the railway bridge and right hand bend past Croxall GP (coming from Alrewas) on the left. I had not got to see them before but on the way home and with no traffic around I managed to slow down enough to see the five birds in amongst the Mute Swans.