Thursday, 26 December 2013

26-12-13, Its the pits!!!

First of all I am replying to some messages, its my blog, I set it up and I cannot reply to messages.  Unbelievable.  Tapper - the Crossbills are favouring a small group of pines in Budby south forest, follow the birders, there are loads of them there.  Rob - happy Christmas mate.

It seems ages since I broke up from work but with either the weather being rough or me too drunk to birdwatch I was unable to get out until Xmas day and as I was celebrating my 40th birthday the evening before I felt a bit rough to begin with then but the weather was good and I was not going to miss out on a bit of gravel pit birding on Xmas morning.

I have also had my eyepiece returned.  It was not easy and I did have to say a coupe of white lies but its back at last.

25-12-13, Alrewas GP.

4 Grey Heron
29 Coot
2 Wigeon
41 Tufted Duck
1 Pochard
1 Goldeneye
9 Mallard
5 Lapwing
1 Kingfisher

National Arboretum

1 Chiffchaff on river

Whitemoor Haye.

16 Tufted Duck
1000+ Lapwing
11 Coot
12 Wigeon
2 Little Owls


After a beer free Xmas day I had options.  Wales for Hoopoe and Buff-bellied Pipit.  Leicestershire/Rutland to grab a Velvet Scoter, Scaup and Black-throated Diver.  Humber Estuary and Sheffield for Ivory Gull and Two-barred Crossbill.  Each of the above was very tempting but I looked at the weather, the forecast was a lovely day, every man and his dog would be out today Xmas shopping or just out working off yesterdays meal .  I don't do bank holidays away from home too far so once again I concentrated on the local pits.

Whitemoor Haye.

I was on site for about 08.30 and I was greeted with dense fog.  Bugger.  I had a walk about but it was pretty useless, o couldn't even see the pool let alone count ducks, I could just hear Wigeon and Teal.  Around the lanes I also heard a Green Woodpecker and could see a Little Owl in its tree.


I popped home to wait until the sun burnt off the fog and was made up when a male Blackcap was feasting on some fat balls.  We have had a pair turn up for the past three winters.  Hopefully I will see it again next Wednesday.

National Arboretum. 

Very flooded but did see 2 Jay and heard 2 Redshank on the river edge.

Alrewas GP.

31 Mute Swan
3 Mallard
2 Cormorant
82 Tufted Duck
14 Goldeneye
9 Great Crested Grebe
17 Coot
several Mipits
2 Teal
2 Gadwall
1 Pochard
1 Smew (redhead)
18 Lapwing

Whitemoor Haye.

A second visit to end the day

8 Wigeon
c800 Lapwing
25 Tufted Duck
26 Coot
21 Teal
1 Little Grebe
2 Goldeneye
52 Golden Plover
250+ Linnet
1 Little Owl
30+ Tree Sparrow
10+ Yellowhammer

A decent end to the day and made up with finding a female Smew at Alrewas GP. 

With another deep depression heading towards the UK and the forecast for the next few days pretty rubbish I am not sure when I will be out next.

Monday, 16 December 2013

15-12-13, Peices of 14.

Budby South Forest.
Saturday was a working day for me but the night time was all play, well drinking!! Back to the birding and as I was not fit to drive early Sunday I employed my birding mate to do the driving, I just sat in the passengers seat and talked rubbish.  We were soon at our destination, Sherwood Forest, and in particular Budby south forest and our target was Parrot Crossbills.  14 birds (hence the title) have been present for a few days and as I have failed miserably with the two-barred variety, these were a must.
We parked in Sherwood Forest visitor centre and had a decent walk to find the birds but it was ideal to sober up.  We soon found the south forest and eventually the loads of birders present all surrounding a couple of pines and there at the top were several crossbills, several Parrot Crossbills. BOOM, get in there.
Male Parrot Crossbill.
Female Parrot Crossbill

Sherwood Forest.
After enjoying the crossbills we had a steady walk back to the car via quite an important tree nearby, the 'Mighty Oak' which is meant to be quite famous as Robin Hood lived or hid in it, sorry history is not my strongest point.  Anyway a mighty tree all the same, in fact there was several decent oaks around the forest and loads of birch that was a victim of the recent winds, by-eck there was some damage done.  Nowt much to add here but we did come a cross a woman feeding the birds, she does them daily, and when the food was put out it was a frenzy of birds.  Blue, Coal and Great Tits everywhere, at one point there was at least 20 Great tits queuing up.  Three Nuthatches were also having a good feed. 

Rufford CP.
The day was getting on a bit and after a quick food stop where we managed to miss a harsh shower we decided to head for Rufford park as both of us had not had Lesser Peckers this year.  In fact this site produced my one and only Lesser Pecker a few years ago.  Unfortunately we were not lucky today however we did see a Hawfinch at the tops of the trees and in the Yews there were loads of Redwings but not a lot else.
With not a lot of daylight left we headed home.



Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Well, as predicted it was a pretty uneventful weekend.  Saturday was a lock open day at Atherstone, quite fun but hard work and Sunday was a day of nothing but I did have a walk around Whitemoor Haye, still scopeless I must add.
Birds of note included
126+ Fieldfare
30+ Redwing
112 Coot
62 Tufted Duck
30 Mallard
84 Wigeon
250+ Golden Plover over
455+ Lapwing
4 Tree Sparrow
several Yellowhammer
400+ Woodpigeon
1 Mistle Thrush.
Nothing special I am afraid.
I have been asked to give some information on Whitemoor Haye as I bird it.
On the A513 out of Alrewas towards Tamworth, the arboretum is on your left. Turn right at the roundabout an drive past the Whitemoor Lakes centre.  On the left is what I call the quarry lake.  This can be viewed anywhere from the entrance to the centre to the entrance to the quarry.  A word of warning though, the centre get unhappy when kids are there, I check no-one is on the lake before I have a look however it is not against the law and there is a public footpath that runs right across the entrance.  The other side of the road is a small wood, don't ignore this, there can be some good stuff in there.  From the quarry entrance heading away from the arboretum (towards Whittington) you will be walking or what most birders do nowadays, driving around the lanes.  There is a sharp right hand turn with a rough looking track going straight on.  This is a 1.7 mile square walk and on a good day well worth it.  After the square you can keep heading towards Whittington past Sittles farm, check the hedgerows for House Sparrows, a nice addition to the site list, then round a sharp left bend and park on the next bend.  Here you can stand on the bank and check the far end of the pits.
A word of warning though, the gravel pits and fields are no go for birders.  Unfortunately people from the Whitemoor Lakes centre and poachers get away with walking around the gravel pits but birders are not accepted, the farmer has a few henchman who are happy to deal with birders but let poachers and the other people walk around.  Strange.
Quite a bit of information to take in but check as much as possible and you could have a good few hours here.  Time of day is, I find, very important.  First thing is cracking whereas afternoons can be dead.

Enjoy it, I do.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I have a day off and was really tempted with Marshside for a Baikal Teal and then Nottinghamshite for Parrot Crossbills but I still do not have a scope.  Getting a bit nervous now as it is getting closer to Xmas, I really need it back before then.

Local pits tomorrow then!!!!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

01-12-13, Whitemoor Haye.

Very little birding this weekend.  Friday night was a Christmas party which was quite fun then Saturday I was working for the day.  Sunday morning I headed out on my push bike and rode 32 miles, this took me over the 1000 mile mark for this calendar year, tidy, then after the ride and my brecky I headed to Whitemoor Haye and noted the following.
1 Kingfisher, several Tufties, Coot, Mallard and Wigeon.  These could not be counted as a) I am still without a scope and most of the birds were distant and b) the sun was very bright and shining right on the lake making out the birds very difficult.  I could definitely make out 1 drake Goldeneye and also noted 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 44+ Lapwing, 20+ Skylark, 1 male Sparrowhawk and several Fieldfare.
Next weekend is also looking a bit of a non-birding weekend as I am working Saturday and then Sunday a few of us are heading to Derby shopping and maybe the odd cheeky beer.

26-11-13, Whitemoor Haye

A nice bit of a bonus whilst on my way home from work at dusk, I first had a Woodcock fly over the A513 at Comberford then as I was approaching the island for Whitemoor Haye on the A513 a Barn owl was hunting each side of the road shortly followed by a Woodcock heading to Whitemoor Haye.