Tuesday, 29 March 2011

29-3-11, News.

Hmm, I have been thinking about the Buzzard I saw at Whitemoor Haye last night. There was something different about the flight but I only saw it for about a second before it disapeared behind the heaps of soil and never came out. With a Marsh Harrier seen in the Trent valley, this could have easily been the harrier and not the Buzzard. Shame it didn't show again as it would have been a county tick for me!! Im sorry about the posting below, it will not let me put spaces between each entry so it looks rubbish.

28-3-11, Cannock Chase - Rifle Range.

Another full Saturday at work then a few beers on Saturday night. With the clocks going back, late night and my rubbish clock getting me up at 05.00 BST to watch the grand prix I was pretty much cabbaged for the whole day. I couldnt keep awake all day and a fell asleep on many occasions. This meant I was nice and fresh for a day off on Monday and I planned to head to the chase to nail one bird, the Great Grey Shrike. I and many other birders have spent a few hours hunting this bird down and today I didn't want to leave without it on my year list. I was very worried when I woke up and there was a dense fog in the Trent valley, hopefully it would lift as I got towards the chase. Through Rugeley it was just as bad but then driving up towards the bend for the rifle range the weather cleared. Superb. A 20 minute walk and I was around the shooting butt/valley/old quarry area. Now time for the Shrike to show. I hung around for about an hour with no sighting at all. thinking what to do and where to go I remebered someone saying when we were waiting for the Woodchat Shrike to show that they were known late rises, sometimes mid morning before they became active. I decided to take notice of this bit of advice and headed off to my next site. Birds noted whilst here were Magpie, Robin, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Long-tailed Tit, Woodpigeon, Song Thrush, Yellowhammer, Chiffchaff, Woodlark, Carrion Crow and Stonechat. * 28-3-11, Belvide Reservoir. * Only down the road and another nice new bird for my year list was present at Belvide, a Black-necked Grebe. I battled through the, still lingering, fog and arrived at Belvide. I couldnt see the dam from the Scott Hide, let alone a any birds on the water. Doh. I headed up to the furthest hide (sorry fogot the name), hung around before the fog was starting to lift before heading back to the first hide via the other hides. Birds noted were Chiffchaff, Pheasant, Woodpigeon, Chaffinch, Robin, Great Tit, Wren, Carrion Crow, Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Coot, Gadwall, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Teal, Mallard, Jay, Starling, Mistle Thrush, Oystercatcher, Reed Bunting, Sand Martin, Shoveler, Grey Heron, Curlew, Lapwing, Goldeneye, Pied Wagtail, Linnet, Magpie, Little Ringed Plover, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Wigeon, Pochard, Rook, Tree Sparrow, Cormorant, Black-headed Gull, Black-necked Grebe and Fieldfare. Nice. Good to get the grebe and a couple of othe year ticks but my mind was still on that bloody shrike. Nope, its no good. * 28-3-11, Cannock Chase - Rifle Range. * My plan was to head up the M6 to Stoke for, hopefully, Black Redstart and Wheatear but I decided to head back for the shrike. was it the correct decision...........oh yes. I headed down the track and near the old quarry, perched on a sapling was the Great Grey Shrike. A cracking bird but it didnt show for too long before flying off. I needed to do some shopping so I headed off home. Birds noted here were Great Tit, Magpie, Coal Tit, Robin, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Green Woodpecker, Jay, Meadow Pipit and Kestel.

28-3-11, Whitemoor Haye.

With the evenings an hour lighter, I cracked on with a few jobs before heading out for the last couple of hours. Birds noted were Tree Sparrow, Black-headed Gull, Blackbird, Linnet, Carrion Crow, Pied Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Robin, Lapwing, Buzzard, Canada Geese, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Skylark, Grey Partridge I saw two and also heard at least one calling, Mallard, Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting, Mute Swan 34, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Wheatear, Pheasant, Greylag Geese, Blue Tit, Magpie, Stock Dove, Mistle Thrush, Rook, Tufted Duck, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redshank and Chiffchaff. A nice day all in all.

Monday, 21 March 2011

21-3-11, Cromford Canal.

Ive been meaning to have a mini tour to get some well needed year birds but as Ive been busy its been left to now. I was up early and in the car park by the Cromford canal for 06.45. The obvious target here is Hawfinch so I hung around the car park for ten minutes before heading down the canal. Birds noted were Pied Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Canada Geese, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Wren, Jackdaw, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Mallard, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Hawfinch, Great Tit and Greenfinch. The Hawfinch flew along the canal, over my head then perched in a tree. Quality.

Carsington Water.

I visited here a couple of weeks ago to find the Great Northern Divers that have been present for ages. I missed them on that occasion and was willing for them to be easily found. I was not sure where to go and the first hide I drove to was all locked up. Bugger. I then headed for the dam looking where to park and drove under the dam, parking halfway along (proberbly where I should not have done), walked up the dam to view the reservoir and there was 2 Great Northern Divers right in front of me. What a bonus. I was not going to stop at any sight once got the target bird but a quick scan also produced Pied Wagtail, Carrion Crow, Oystercatcher, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Canada Geese, Coot, Mallard, Barnacle Geese and Great Black-backed Gull.


A quick drive over into Staffordshire and I drove straight into thick fog. This was not going to help me find my next target, Red Grouse. A bit of a drive around the Knotbury area looking for where I parked up last time I was here. I eventually got there and headed off down the track. Fortunately the fog had lifted a little, enough to be able to see a fair distance. Birds noted were Curlew, Song Thrush, Robin, Great Tit, Blackbird, Pheasant, Lapwing, Meadow Pipit, Red Grouse and Dunnock. The grouse turned out very easy to find with three calling as I got out of the car. A quick walk down the track and a male was standing on top of a tuft calling before flying off.

River Dane south of Flash.

This is where I saw my first Staffs Dipper and so I returned to find another for my year list.
The first Dipper was easy to find but today I struggled before eventually giving up. Birds noted here were Carrion Crow, Dunnock, Wren, Mallard, Blackbird, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Rook and Pheasant. It would have been nice to have got a Dipper today but I was not too bothered as I will be heading to Lathkill Dale in May to photograph them.

Park Hall CP.

I was passing through the Stoke area, heading to my next destination, and I was passing the country park so I decided to have a quick look for any Long-eard Owls. I dont know how long they use this area as a winter roost and, not having heard any reported recently, I was not expecting anything. I was not disappointed. I didnt find any. Birds noted were Robin, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Wren, Blackbird, Great Tit, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Magpie, Sparrowhawk and Goldfinch.

Blithfield Reservoir.

I have not had chance to get up here to see the Great White Egret so I thought I would have a look here just in case. I headed for Tad Bay before heading round to Blithe Bay. Birds noted were Great Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard, Woodpigeon, Jay, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Mallard, Canada Geese, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Coot, Mute Swan, Shoveler, Goldeneye, Reed Bunting, Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Dunnock and Moorhen. I then drove round to both the causeway and the dam end but I didnt add any more birds to the list.

Whitemoor Haye.

I spent the last couple of hours walking around Whitemoor Hayel. Birds noted around the lanes were Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Wren, Black Headed Gull, Carrion Crow, Starling, Robin, Yellowhammer, Lapwing, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, probable Meadow Pipits, 37 Mute Swans, Grey Heron, Song Thrush, a single Grey Partridge, Magpie, Fieldfare, Long-tailed Tit, Kestrel, Stock Dove and Moorhen. I have seen a few small birds which I have noted down as possible Linnet but written down as LBJ's. That was until the other day there was about 15 Meadow Pipits close to the track. I saw about forty small birds today though distant. Linnets or Mipits? Onto the quarry pool and I added Mallard, Wigeon, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Oystercatcher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 11 Shelduck, Pied Wagtail and Tufted Duck.
A busy day visiting a few sites just to target certain birds, being succesful on 3 of them. Not bad and enjoyable but knackering.

20-3-11, Alrewas GP.

Another evening on the beer so I decided to head outx on my push bike armed with everything I needed for birding and photography. First place was the gravel pit by the A38. Birds noted were Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Great Tit, Blackbird, Wren, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Coot, Tufted Duck, Blue Tit, Canada Geese, Carrion Crow, Reed Bunting, Great Crested Grebe, Teal, Black-headed Gull, Chaffinch, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Pied Wagtail and Pheasant. Not too bad but was hoping for the odd warbler.

20-3-11, National Arboretum.

Under the rail line then onto the arboretum. Birds noted were Carrion Crow, Great Tit, Wren, Redwing there was about 250 to 300 in the trees proberbly gathering to make the big flight overseas, Greenfinch, Cormorant, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Coot, Greylag Geese, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Oystercatcher, Mistle Thrush, Collared Dove, Lesser Redpoll, Long-tailed Tit and Dunnock. Again, pretty quiet but nice views of the single Redpoll.

20-3-11, Junction Pit.

I keep looking here hoping the water levels change and the birds return but still very poor. Birds noted were Moorhen, Canada Geese, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Greylag Geese, Coot, Mallard, Grey Heron and Great Crested Grebe,

20-3-11, Croxall Wides.

I was not planning to visit Croxall GP today but I did have a look at the new islands in the river hoping for a Little-ringed Plover or Sand Martin. Neither of them showed and I only saw Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Carrion Crow and Canada Geese.

20-3-11, Whitemoor Haye.

After finishing the Arboretum I headed over to Whitemoor Haye and noted Carrion Crow, Wren, Long-tailed Tit, Pied Wagtail and Yellowhammer when entering the lanes. I stopped off at the quarry pool and added Mallard, Lapwing, Tufted Duck, Grerat Spotted Woodpecker, Starling, Redshank, Wigeon, Black-headed Gull, Canada Geese, a single Dunlin, Reed Bunting, Magpie and Great Crested Grebe. Onto the lanes and birds noted were Mistle Thrush, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Cormorant, Blue Tit, Mute Swan 34, Chaffinch, Robin, Tree Sparrow, Kestrel, 213 Fieldfare and a couple of Buzzards. Not a bad list for midday.

20-3-11, Fradley Junction Nature Reserve.

I had to come here as I put out paper for people to write down any bird sightings. Unfortunately most of the comments include Ostrich, pink elephant, a pair of great tits, sad bastard etc. It was funny to begin with but a few thousand later its gets a tad dull. I did stop for quite some time but Im giving it another go. Whilst here I walked around and noted Robin, Mute Swan, Mallard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Rook, Goldfinch, Coal Tit, Grey Heron, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Moorhen, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Fieldfare over.
I then heard the pub calling and so enjoyed several pints of Black Sheep before biking home, not in a straight line!!!!!

Friday, 18 March 2011

18-3-11, Whitemoor Haye.

Finally a day off but Im a bit of a recovering alcoholic after a decent night at a beer festival. Lots of beer and not much kip. I managed to get a couple of hours birding around Whitemoor mid morning before heading to town and doing some jobs at home. Birds noted were Tree Sparrow, Robin, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Black-headed Gull, Mistle Thrush, Skylark, Long-tailed Tit, Lapwing, Stock Dove, Corn Bunting, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Yellowhammer, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Mute Swan 39, Cormorant, Reed Bunting, Starling, Kestrel, Grey Partridge 4, Pied Wagtail, Buzzard, Greylag Geese, Tufted Duck, Redshank, Mallard, Canada Geese, Wigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Greenfinch and Song Thrush.
This week my mother, who walks around Whitemoor Haye nearly every morning, has had a couple of Wheatears but as yet I have been unable to connect with them. Typical.

I have another photo from my contact in New Zealand. He thinks it is a leucistic Starling but some birders over in New Zealand think it is normal plumage for a juvenile moulting into adult. I have only seen Starlings in the UK and the juveniles here are brownish before turning into adult plumage. The photo shoes a bird with a whiteish head and think my contact is correct, however it might be a different race in New Zealand. I anyone has any comments to make that would be great to help Kerry in New Zealand.

Monday, 14 March 2011

14-3-11, Update.

Ive already said that I was working over the weekend however a couple of bonus year birds crossed my path in the form of a Chiffchaff in Rugeley and a Grey Wagtail in Etruria.

Whitemoor Haye.

An early start equals an early finish which equals a bit of time for birding and Whitemoor was first. A walk around the lanes to begin with and I noted Woodpigeon, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Tree Sparrow, Skylark, Carrion Crow, Dunnock, Starling, Black-headed Gull, Stock Dove, Grey Heron, Lapwing, Pheasant, Buzzard, Little Owl, Blackbird, Mallard, Mute Swan 35, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellowhammer, Magpie, Chaffinch, Wren, Great Tit and Kestrel. Then it was a look over the quarry pool to end with. I added Reed Bunting, Pied Wagtail which I counted 31, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Wigeon and Tufted Duck.


With about an hour of light left I headed down the road to Croxall to see what was about. Birds noted on and around the main lake were Tufted Duck, Mallard, Starling, Fieldfare, Canada Geese, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Dunnock, Magpie, Long-tailed Tit, Goldeneye, Blackbird, Robin, Coot, Teal, Black-headed Gull, Wigeon, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Little Egret and a Song Thrush. Through to the east side and I could only add Rook, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Coirmorant, Greylag Geese and Woodpigeon. Heading back towards the car park and I also added Reed Bunting, Wren and a Grey Heron flew over the reserve as I loaded the car up.
I am hoping to do a bit of birding on Friday although I might be visiting the real ale festival in Burton. Might get messy!!!!!

Friday, 11 March 2011

12-3-11, Things

I have a contact in New Zealand who is a bit of a photographer and is going to send me some pics. Here are a couple for you to look at.

The first picture is a Wrybill and is the only bird in the world to have a bill point sideways. the second looks like a good old Skylark but in fact is called a New Zealand Pipit. Captain Cook thought it was a lark. Great pics I think you would agree and the photographer is coming to these shores this spring and is hoping to photograph some stuff around Whitemoor. Good luck on the front.

11-3-11, Whitemoor Haye.

A couple of hours of daylight left after work to do a bit of birding so me and the dog headed off to Whitemoor Haye (what a suprise). I was hoping to catch up with the odd migrant, mainly Wheatear. A few have been seen around the country and a Sand Martin flew through Belvide today. With eyes wide open I left the car near the big house and headed out but I didnt realise how windy it was until I was out in the open. This would have a big effect on the birds see andfor the first half of the walk that was the case but then as the main lane has a bit of shelter I the species started to come. Birds noted were Robin 8, Carrion Crow 93, Starlings, Lapwing 25, Wood Pigeon 1169 - three seperate groups of birds, two circa 300 and one circa 400 plus 69 others counted around the walk, Lesser Black-backed Gull 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Blackbird 9, Chaffinch 11, Reed Bunting 40+, Tree Sparrow 52, Yellowhammer 49+, Blue Tit 13, Canada Geese, Green Sandpiper 1, Linnet 37, Grey Heron 1, Mute Swan 29, Wren 2, Buzzard 1, Magpie 23, Fieldfare 21, Dunnock 1, Red-legged Partridge 1, Goldfinch 1, Jackdaw 2, Black-headed Gull 2, Stock Dove 1 and Rook 2. Onto the quarry pool and I could only add, in very choppy waters (or on the edge), Pied Wagtail 22, Tufted Duck 2, Oystercatcher 2, Wigeon 2 and a single Pochard.
Working all weekend but mind be able to find time after I have finished on Sunday to walk Whitemoor again.

Monday, 7 March 2011

7-3-11, News.

Ive been a bit slack with putting my information on Birdtrack. One thing I am trying to do this year is putting numbers with sightings. All of this information is very important and useful to county recorders. Late 2009 was my last input so I am battling through my notebooks to get it sorted. I did find something suprising on Birdtrack though, I could bring up a site and see whats been recorded in any year. I looked at Whitemoor Haye for 2011 and was quite suprised to see the following had been recorded - Pink-footed Goose, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser, Black-tailed Godwit and Chiffchaff. Seen or heard nothing of these reported around this patch on the pager or Birdguides!!!!!

6-3-11, Whitemoor Haye.

No birding Saturday as working all day so today was only a visit to Whitemoor as I needed a rest and my back wasn't brilliant. Birds noted around the lanes were Tree Sparrow, Greenfinch, Magpie, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Black-headed Gull, Carrion Crow, Wren, Starling, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Skylark, Blue Tit, Grey Heron 3, Kestrel 2, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Corn Bunting 2, Wood Pigeon c300, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Canada Geese, Lapwing 311, Mute Swan, Buzzard 2, Pheasant and Long-tailed Tit. Over to the quarry pool and I added 22 Tufted Duck, 6 Goldeneye, 6 Mallard, 116 Wigeon, 39 Pochard and 2 Teal. There was also a very good candidate for a female Scaup. The bird was in with the Tufted Ducks and showed a larger white base of the bill than any of the female Tufties. There was also no definate tuft on the head but it was at a distance.
I am working now for the next two weekends so news will be pretty slow through March but then the migration will be underway, come on.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

2-3-11, Whitemoor Haye.

Due to a bout of insomnia I have been up early and so before dawn I walked the dog. I hear the usual suspects - Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Dunnock. This morning I was a bit suprised to hear a Skylark well before dawn.
Anyway to this afternoon and I finished work a bit early and managed to get an hour and a halfs birding before sunset. I decided to ckeck the quarry pool first because of the poor light later. Birds noted were Tree Sparrow, Wood Pigeon 358 noted over the whole site, Robin, Black-headed Gull, Starling a couple of hundred were gathering to roost, Lapwing 157 were on the quarry edge and 20 more were in the field neat Sittles Farm and then a flock of around 400 lifted from the quarry before dusk, Magpie 34 counted over the site, Teal 4, Wigeon 127, Mallard 6, Pochard 71, Gadwall 2, Tufted Duck 8, Pied Wagtail 6, Chaffinch, Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Song Thrush. From here it was around the lanes. Birds added were Blackbird, Mute Swan 85, Dunnock, Long-tailed Tit, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, 4 Grey Partridge, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, 227 Fieldfare, a single Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, 2 Stock Dove, 1 Grey Heron and Canada Geese.