Monday, 27 January 2014

Recent photos of some quality birds.

Long-tailed Duck - Alrewas GP

 Lesser Scaup - Tittesworth Reservoir
Buff-bellied Pipit - Burton Marsh RSPB 

Probable Siberian Chiffchaff - Alrewas GP

Black-throated Diver - Swithland Reservoir 

Great Spotted Woodpecker - Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Glossy Ibis - Brownhills

Common Gull - Flint

Jackdaws - Flint

Black Headed Gull - Flint

Bullfinch - Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Lesser Redpoll - Tittesworth Reservoir

Parrot Crossbill - Budby

Parrot Crossbill - Budby

Sunday, 26 January 2014


Coleshill, Warwickshire.
The forecast today was pretty awful in the morning getting slightly better in the afternoon.  I had already planned something in the morning but I was hoping positive news would come out of Coleshill whilt I was busy and mid morning came news of its presence.  By 12.30 I was on site, people were milling about, not good.  It was last heard 20 minutes earlier and about 20 minutes after I had been on site someone waved the crowd over and I heard the bird call several times.  Another 20 minutes past and I changed location due to the sun shining in our face and this proved to be a good choice.  The bird was seen again and I managed to see the bird as it made its way through the undergrowth.  I had seen my first HUMES YELLOW BROWED WARBLER, I was elated.  It then disappeared for a long time and during this time the growing crowd were dodging the heavy showers.  Mid afternoon saw the sun come out and as myself and a couple of fellow bloggers walked down the muddy path the bird called next to us before flying in to a tree.  Great views were had and then it went mad.  It showed and called as it flew a hundred yards along the path.  It eventually hung around in deep bramble and I hung around a bit longer before deciding to head off and check my local patch.  A great little bird.

Whitemoor Haye.
I wanted to check out WH before the end of the weekend.  600+ Lapwing, 3 Wigeon, 3 Goldeneye (2 drakes), 6 Mallard and 4 Redshank around the lake and a few Yellowhammer were down the lanes.

The end of the day was spent checking a few swans I had seen this morning whilst out on an early morning bike ride.  28 Mute Swans were present but don't mock, last year a hundred + swans were present and one day I found a Bewick's Swan with them.  I think they are worth checking through anyway.


Burton Marsh RSPB.
How very little I knew what a quality weekend this was going to be.  I arrived at the above site at 08.00. A long staying Buff-bellied Pipit had been present for quite sometime now.  I really should have come for this at Xmas but never got round to it and I was getting a bit nervous that it would not be around much longer.  I arrived on site and checking the tide wrack it was alive, with Meadow Pipits.  How the hell were we going to find BBP within this lot.  To add tot he misery there were millions of lumps of veg and logs where birds were hiding.  There were three of us looking and a photographer and I noticed he was firing off loads of shots on something.  I walked around and the BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT was right in front of him, cheers mate.  It stayed around for a few minutes before being spooked.  Stunning.  Now, were did it go???  For the next hour it played hide and seek with the growing numbers.  Not brilliant but it gave everyone a chance to relocate the bird by using your knowledge of the birds markings, especially against the high numbers of Mipits.  I relocated the bird several times and it could be found anywhere on the roughly 100 metres stretch of wrack.  A brilliant bird and well worth the trip alone and as a bonus I nailed a couple of Stonechats and Little Egrets for the year list. Sundays forecast was rubbish so I wanted to make the most of the good weather today (little was I know what the weather had in stall for most of the country a bit later on). I decided to head to nearby Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB, formally the brilliant Inner Marsh Farm.  A bit of a rant now.  Just like football, why the hell do people change names of things?  It does my chuffin head in.  Once Pride Park, always Pride Park.  Once Inner Marsh Farm always should be Inner Marsh farm.

Burton Mere Washlands RSPB.
I located the new visitor centre and then set out for a quick walk around the site.  Not a bad little visit and I managed a few year ticks in the shape of Black-tailed Godwit,  Shoveler and Dunlin as well as getting Bullfinch, Redshank, Curlew, Raven, Jay and hearing Water Rail.
Whilst walking around here news broke of a Humes Warbler at Coleshill in Warwickshire.  Bloomin ell, what do I do.  I decided to stick with the plan and hope it would linger.

Circa Shotwick.
From the visitor centre a boating lake can be seen, this is Shotwick and next to the lake were loads od Whooper Swans Bewicks had also been seen here but they were too far to pick them out and a drive around Shotwick saw me not locate anywhere to scan the flock. I had a plan for later.

A couple of Surf Scoters had been reported off Pensarn beach so I had to go and see if they could make it in my little black book.  I arrived along with a fellow birder from near Cheadle and we also met up with a few more birders from Stoke who had seen the scoters.  We started to look through the Common Scoters that were present on the sea but couldn't locate them but there must have been several thousand Common Scoter.  Brilliant.  The next hour was spent at different sites looking for the Surf Scoters but they could not be relocated.
It was during this time the weather had turned biblical with horrendous hail and winds with mad showers of intense rain.

The rest of the day was taken up with a visit to Flint in the hope of some Twite, they didn't materialise but a Common Gull was great fun to watch, before driving home and getting to Whitemoor Haye for the last 30 minutes of light.  This was a waste of time as I have never, in my many visits to the quarry pool, drew a blank however today there was nothing.  When news of the gull roost at Chasewater came through in the evening I was gutted I didn't think about going there.  Bugger 


Whitemoor Haye.
Bit of a bugger today.  I loaded my bike up to check all of the pits out, wheeled it out to the front of the house and didn't notice the flat tyre until I went to get on it.  Bugger.  I unloaded everything and set out in my car but I decided to check out WH first before doing the pits.
32 Tufted Duck, 79 Wigeon, 2 Goldeneye, a few hundred Lapwing, 5 Mute Swan, several Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer and 1 Kingfisher.

National Arboretum.
Quite a few Redwings were present throughout the site as well as a few Bullfinch, Goldcrest and Coal Tits.

Alrewas GP.
As soon as I arrived on site I could see a whitish duck was with the Tufties, I raised the bins and could see the female Long-tailed Duck was still present.  Cracking.  To add to this I located one redhead Smew on the far side of the pool.  Also on the pool were 38 Tufties, 7 Goldeneye, 12 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Mallard.  I walked along the sewage works and could see several Chiffchaff in the trees.  I counted up to 7 Chiffchaffs present and then one stood out, looking a bit different.  About a year ago I saw my first Siberian Chiffchaff, greyish pale birds compared to normal Chiffchaff.  I am no expert by a long way and I remember a conversation with another blogger about finding a Tristis at Alrewas gp, this bird looked good and I managed to get a few photos but in felt I was not good enough to call this bird a Tristis  A few birders have been enjoying the Smew and Long-tailed Duck and also the possible Siberian Chiffchaff has also been present and various birders are agreeing it looks good.  Just need to hear the call now, oh yeah, and get it split from Colybita too.


Tittesworth Reservoir.
A Lesser Scaup had been found at this north Staffs reservoir.  I have seen a few L Scaups in my time but never one in Staffs so I had to go and see this bird.  A few pictures on tinternet have shown the bird showing close from the car park, I was looking forward to trying my new (well second hand) PL DMC LX3 camera replacing my old one that expired on Xmas day after my bike fell over in a flood.  I arrived on site and a few birders were enjoying the Lesser Scaup however it was on the far side of the resi from the car park. Typical.  I did take a few photos of some Lesser Redpolls on the nearby feeders and also spotted few Common Gulls on the resi.

Whitemoor Haye.
The rest of the day was spent at the local patch.  18 Tufted Duck, 34 Wigeon, 3 Goldeneye, 1 Coot, 2 Mute Swan, Lapwing and Golden Plover, and 2 Grey Partridge

Sunday, 12 January 2014

12-1-14, A great day.

Decisions, decisions.  What do I do today?  I really wanted to check out the local pits to keep my records going but there was also a few year decent ticks out there.  I decided for the latter.

Gailey Reservoir.
I arrived around 08.30 and as soon as I was on the dam the Great Northern Diver was showing but after 30 minutes there was no sign of the Great White Egret that had been present for a few days.  I walked along the path in between to two lakes and eventually I spotted the Great White Egret flying into the sailing lake.

A Glossy Ibis had been present for a few days so I just had to go and find it and it did not take long.  I parked up and walked alongside the horse paddocks and there was the Glossy Ibis asleep in the field.  I watched it for a few minutes before the horses got spooked by something and started dashing around and the Glossy Ibis took off high heading roughly south.

Alrewas GP.

I was back a bit early so I decided to hike over to Alrewas GP before heading around Whitemoor Haye and boy was I glad I did.  From the arboretum you enter Alrewas GP on the east side which is where I count the birds as I can see 95 percent of the lake from here.  I did a count and produced 38 Tufted Duck, 12 Goldeneye, 14 Great Crested Grebe, 9 Mallard and in the distance 2 Smew, both redheads.  I then decided to go and look for any Chiffchaffs.  With lots of Tristis being found, one of these would be a good find here.  I did find three but they were all Collybita.  I headed back and had another look over the lake before heading off and that's when I found a female Long-tailed Duck.  The Tufted Duck numbers looked swelled, had the Long-tailed Duck flown in with the Tufties as it was not present twenty minutes earlier.  As I started counting the ducks a local helicopter started up its engine and spooked the birds.  The Long-tailed Duck and about 20 Tufties flew off heading for Croxall GP.
This was my first ever self found Long-tailed Duck, well made up.
Walking back to my car through the arboretum I had a quick scan over nearby Croxall GP but could not relocate the bird.  Was it on the river or the nearby pits with no access?

Whitemoor Haye.
I headed straight for the pool in case the group of birds form Alrewas GP had landed here but no chance, there was loads of shooting and loads of kids screaming on the climbing things and people walking around the quarry pool.  Deep joy.  Now that the centre was again open after the Xmas break the birds had gone.  63 Mute Swan, 36 Tufties and 25 Coot were on the water.  Garbage.  Around the lanes I added 1 Little Owl, 25+ Tree Sparrows, 700+ Lapwing and 300+ Golden Plover.

All in all a good weekend was had.


Today my aim was to mop up some year ticks and maybe add a lifer.  before Xmas me and my mate went up to Nottinghamshire and really enjoyed the Parrot Crossbills and as they were still present it would be brilliant to get them for 2014. There was also a Firecrest nearby and those bloody Two-barred Crossbills were still present north of Sheffield.

Budby Common.
At 07.00 I picked up my mate and we headed for Budby Common to catch up on the Parrot Crossbills.  When we arrived we definitely were not alone but there was no sign of the birds.  Half an hour went by when a chap walked past us and said the birds were visiting more trees about half a mile up the path the previous day.  It was worth a look and soon we joined a handful of people watching the Parrot Crossbills.  Soon word got around and we were soon joined by about 100 other birders.  A Woodcock was also a bonus here.

Rufford CP.
Whilst waiting for the crossbills news came through of some Hawfinch around the car park at Rufford. It was a few minutes down the road so we headed there.  An hour of looking produced nothing but we did meet an amazing chap whose website is definitely worth a look and I will be adding it to my blog list. Please look at  His photographs are absolutely stunning.

Broomhead Reservoir.
This was the third time I had been to see these birds and when we arrived it was not looking good, many birders in conversation rather than looking through bins.  After a while I suggested we go for a walk and when we walked around a corner eight birders were watching something, five TWO-BARRED CROSSBILLS feeding high in the trees, bingo.  At last and thses birds were cracking.  They hung around for a few minutes before flying off and not relocated for the next 30 minutes. 

Clumber Park.
More Hawfinch had been reported from this site so we decided to head here and spend the rest of the day looking for Hawfinch.  None were located but I did add Mandarin Duck and Willow Tit to my year list.

A great day out and I wonder when I will see Parrot and Two-barred Crossbills on the same day again?  Probably never.

Monday, 6 January 2014


Alas, nowt much on and the weather not bad so I was out of the house at dawn.  I was thinking of doing Belvide and Gailey before heading around the chase in the hope of finding first a Two-barred then a proper Parrot Crossbill.  So it was the local pits then!!!!

Alrewas GP.
61 Tufted Duck, 5 Mallard, 10 Coot, 17 Lapwing over, 26 Wigeon over, 7 Goldeneye, 2 Pochard, 3 Bullfinch (the first of quite a few today) and three Chiffchaffs.  I saw two to begin with and the light was very bright and they were not brilliant views.  What were the chances of these being tristis?  Slim to be honest but you never know.  The third was definitely collybita.

National Arboretum.
A Snipe along the river bank was as good as it got, oh yeah, several Bullfinch too.

Junction Pit.
Not a lot but a Chiffchaff on the fence and a couple of Bullfinch in the willows.

Whitemoor Haye.
142 Wigeon, 73 Teal, 35 Tufted Duck, 5 Redshank, 600+ Lapwing, 30 Coot, 2 Little Owl and you guessed it, a pair of Bullfinch.  The downside of this visit was watching, at close hand, a stout chase down and finally kill a rabbit.  Pretty gruesome really but its nature, nature aint nice.

Field opposite National Arboretum entrance.
This field was quite good last year but a bit too overgrown this year however there was the odd Mipit and a bird with a white rump and a..... okay it was a bloody Bullfinch.

Cracking stuff Grommit.

Saturday, 4 January 2014


No birding today as I was working all day felling trees near Fradley however I still managed to nail some year ticks. Song Thrush, Siskin, Nuthatch and Treecreeper wall all noted. Ideal.

Friday, 3 January 2014

3-1-14, Swithland Reservoir

I really wanted to get some work done today so I spent most of the day rubbing down and welding together my old trailer I decided to repair.  What a mistaker to maker.
There has been a Black-throated Diver at Swithland Reservoir for sometime now, a bird which I did not get last year and a site I have never been to.  I was meant to have a go over the holidays and when a message on the pager saying it was showing well off the dam I just had to go I collected my mate and 90 minutes later we were on site.  By this time it was about 15.30 and chucking it down and blowing a gale.  Then rain soon stopped and the diver was found in the middle of the reservoir, hardly showing well.  Nearby were 3 out of the 4 Scaup that had also been present some time, bonus, then we lost the diver for 5 minutes but it soon reappeared right next to the dam.  Cracking.  A few more year ticks were collected and we went home happy.
The best I could get on a darkening and rainy late afternoon but worth going to see.

2-1-14, Kick Off.

After spending a day watching garbage on TV I was fit and gagging to get out and I decided to spend the day down the usual gravel pits to kick start my year list.  I have made no new year resolutions for birding this year, just going to do what I can and bloody well enjoy it.

Whilst getting my bike ready I managed to sort out a few year ticks including Jackdaw and Black headed Gull.  Easy birding.

North of Alrewas.
On route to the first pit I noted the usual 4 Red-legged Partridge along with about 400 restless Lapwing.

Alrewas GP.
A steady walk around and I noted 80+ Lapwing over, 39 Tufted Duck, 9 Coot, 12 Teal, 14 Goldeneye, 1 Smew (redhead) and 2 Wigeon.

National Arboretum.
Pretty quiet yet again.  Winter is usually very good here with Brambling, Redpoll and Siskin recorded last year.  Nothing like this this year.  I did note a Mistle Thrush and loads of Fieldfares.

Junction Pit.
Once again, pretty rubbish. In the past this has been excellent for Snipe and also noted was Whooper Swan.  Today a Bullfinch was the only bird of note.

Croxall GP.
Bird noted included 78 Mute Swan, 114 Mallard, 80+ Lapwing, 3 Goldeneye, 329 Teal, 162 Tufted Duck, a handful of Wigeon (forgot to write dowm how many I counted!!!!!), 94 Pochard and 3 Little Grebes.

Whitemoor Haye.
A vast chunk of the afternoon was spent riding around and around the lanes as well as checking out the pool.  Birds noted included 2 Goosander flying over, 16 Tufted Duck, 2 Goldeneye, 23 Coot, 79 Wigeon, several Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow, 2 Little Owl, 35 Golden Plover, 400+ Lapwing and 1 Redshank.

Back home just before dusk and was having a go at photographing House Sparrows out of the back window when a cracking Sparrowhawk flew down and perched on a nearby garden ornament, a full frame shot but the camera and to focus and the bird flew.  Bugger, it would have been a cracker.   
Thats all I got folks!!!!!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


First of all a very happy new year to whoever reads blogs these days.  The Christmas period has been a bit frustrating for me, there are ticks everywhere but it means a fair bit of driving and therefore lots of fuel.  I have been very tempted with the Brunnichs Guillemot in Portland harbour, the White-billed Diver in Devon, Buff-breasted Pipit at Burton Marsh, Ivory Gull on the Humber and the recently found Arctic Redpoll in Worcestershire.  Great birds for my life list but a lot of driving and lets face it the weather has been pretty rubbish, probably hence the great birds, but with lots of people visiting friends, family or the sales the roads are always very busy and the crap weather can lead to miserable driving.  And then theres the fuel.  I do have a birding buddy who I go out with but this is not that regular, that does make a difference on a long journey sharing the fuel.  In fact we are both keeping an eye on the weather as Friday we are having a day out, at first it was to Rutland Water for the day however a few of the above birds could well be on the radar, I will tell more over the weekend.

To today and I would love to be out but the weather is pretty rubbish and I cannot drive due to the massive intake of alcohol last night therefore my year list will have to start proper tomorrow although I am keeping an eye on my feeders to see what comes in.  Already I have had Blue and Great Tit, Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Blackbird.  Easy birding.  To be fair though I must not complain about the weather as this is the first January 1st that I have not been able to bird since I started birding in 1999, Ill take today on the chin and watch crap on the TV.

Whilst Im here I might as well catch up on the birding since Boxing Day.

27-12-13, Croxall GP.

I headed to the reserve to do a duck count.  474 Teal, 221 Mallard, 9 Great Crested Grebe, 83 Tufties, 89 Pochard, 12 Wigeon, 34 Coot, 3 Snipe and 6 Redshank.


Whitemoor Haye.
75 Wigeon, 31 Coot, 19 Tufties, 111 Lapwing, 76 Golden Plover, Green Woodpecker and a Little Owl.

Willington GP.
A trip over the border into Derbyshire to this great reserve.  It is predominantly a summer reserve, great for warblers however it is always worth a visit anytime of the year.  Birds noted were Bullfinch, Grey Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Tufties, Snipe, Merlin, Peregrine, Goosander, Gadwall and Shoveler.

Branston GP.
Back down the A38 and I headed to Branston pits to see what was about.  I noted 77 Coot, 62 Teal, 10 Gadwall, 8 Little Grebe, 15 Tufties, 1 only Pochard, 29 Mallard, 8 Wigeon, 1 Shoveler, 1 Little Egret, 17 Curlew and 5 Shelduck.

Whitemoor Haye.
I spent the last hour back at old faithful and noted 18 Coot, 2 Goldeneye, 12 Tufties, 2 Teal, 79 Wigeon and 5 Redshank.

29-12-13 saw me do my favourite tour of the pits around Alrewas.

Alrewas GP.
25 Mallard, 11 Great Crested Grebe, 17 Coot, 84 Tufties, 6 Goldeneye, 2 Smew (both redheads), 1 Pochard and 8 Teal.

Whitemoor Haye.
Nothing special around the arboretum or Junction Pit so it was off to the regular patch.  27 Tufties, 232 Wigeon, 62 Teal, 3 Gadwall, 29 Coot, 800+ Lapwing, 2 Little Owls, 250+ Golden Plover and a bonus of 5 Ruff with some Lapwings.

30-12-13, Whitemoor Haye.
327 Wigeon, 27 Coot, 26 Tufties, 8 Mallard, 67 Teal, 1200+ Lapwing, 150+ Golden Plover and a Peregrine.

31-12-13, Whitemoor Haye.
229 Wigeon, 34 Coot, 19 Mallard, 19 Teal, 2 Goldeneye, 400+ Lapwing and 1 Little Owl.

That's 2013 all done and dusted.  I ended up with 214 birds for the year, not bad for me but could have been better and I will definitely try harder this year.  I didn't even tick Tawny Owl, heard a couple but none seen and thats the same with Bittern.  Poor.

Anyway here's to 2014 and loads of birds.