Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Hawfinch - Burbage, Leics.

21st November 2017

Managed to get decent views of a single Hawfinch feeding, although I did have to travel a few miles into Leicestershire to see it. To Burbage Common to be exact. The Hawfinch was feeding in a Maple tree.
Hawfinch, Burbage Common, Leics.

Hawfinch

Hawfinch

Hawfinch

Sunday, 19 November 2017

'That was the week that was'

Friday 17th November 2017

A week when things got back to normal even though Hawfinch mania was still in vogue. Desparate to see birds 'perched up' rather than just flyovers, not that I wasn't delighted to see flyovers at Hartshill, I've spent the week searching any local spot that looked promising but all to no avail. The highlights of my week have been 3 Stonechats at Caldecote and the dance of the 13 Pied Wagtails at Bentley Wood. The latter was an interesting spectacle. The birds jumped up from the ground in a field of Corn stubble usually about 4 feet, presumably after insects. It was more like the ritual dance of some bird of paradise. The first and probably only pair of Fieldfare in the garden apple tree was a good end to rather a disappointing week.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Warwickshire on a roll.

1st November 2017

As the events at Draycote became history, the new month began with something of a bang as far as Warwickshire Birders were concerned. How much more excitement could we take? Compensation some would say for the hours of searching in a very landlocked county for little reward.So when first a Dartford Warbler was found with Stonechats at a reserve between Coventry and Leamington and then a Lesser Yellowlegs was seen at a sensitive site near Maxstoke it was time for some celebration.
Although not up to the standards of the previous day Draycote did attempt something of a comeback with Long tailed Duck and Common Scoter the next day. Unfortunately not quite in the same league as Rutland Water with its Cory's Shearwater but than perhaps size does matter when it comes to Reservoirs.
Dartford warbler, Bubbenhall

Lesser Yellowlegs, Nr. Maxstoke

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs


Sunday, 29 October 2017

Rare visitor to Draycote Water.

Sunday 29th October 2017

October birding has been unusually local for me this year following the annual trip to the Shetland Isles. Attention  focussed on the local hills and a rather special day at Draycote Water. Daily visits to the Mancetter Quarry hill had produced very little apart from an apparent increase in numbers of Woodpigeons, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits.
  However reports of local sightings of Hawfinches, a little further along the ridge at Hartshill Hayes caused a relocation. A different strategy was called for as it became apparent that a major eruption of Hawfinches was underway. The following days saw frequent 'vis. migging' sessions from the favoured vantage point on the edge of the Hayes, which gave great views to the east. Flocks of Thrushes and Finches, mainly Redwing and Chaffinch but also smaller numbers of Skylark, Siskin, Fieldfare with the odd Brambling and Meadow pipit picked out by Warks. Bird Obs. whose hearing and knowledge of bird calls is considerably better than mine. Sightings of incoming Hawfinches though did not occur until the 5th attempt when 5 birds were seen.
  News that a Razorbill was at Draycote water had me heading off a little further afield. The bird looked in good enough condition as it swam and dived around the fishing boats and pontoons but the half closed eyes suggested the bird was on its last legs.The bird was found dead the next day. The extremely rare visitor to the Midlands and the supporting cast of Grey Phalarope and Shag were well appreciated by the gathering of notable Birders from Warwickshire and the West Mids and at least a couple from the East Mids.

Razorbill, Draycote Water

Razorbill

Shag

Grey Phalarope

Friday, 13 October 2017

Back on the'patch'

Friday 13th October

Both the Caldecote and Mancetter walks have been very quiet. I had a single Swallow on the Caldecote walk yesterday and a flock of 30 Goldfinches on the Mancetter walk. On the Webs count at Alvecote pools there was a Goldeneye as well as the 2 Cattle Egrets and 2 Stonechats.
I also visited Draycote Water where there was a Rock pipit, and 2 Goosander as well as the long staying Little Stint, Ruff, Ringed plover and Dunlin. Unfortunately I failed to connect with the Greenshank.
Little Stint with Dunlin, Draycote Water

Ruff, Draycote Water

Cattle Egret, Alvecote

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Shetland Isles - 2017

30th Sept - 7th October 2017

After a very long drive and a good flight we, (Pete and Joy Forbes and myself) arrived at Sumburgh on the southern tip of the Shetland Isles for a week's birding. I cannot recall the daily sequence of events but it involved a good deal of driving, courtesy Mr Julian Allen. Some exploration, a wide variety of weather conditions, mainly ranging from windy and wet to extremely windy and wet. I managed to get a couple of half decent photos when I remembered to take my camera with me.
It was also nice to see so many Shetland 'regulars' as well as the birds the islands attract from east and west.The week certainly started well with Common Crane, Wryneck and Great grey Shrike(2),Short toed Lark, a showy Rustic Bunting and a rather less obliging Pallas's Grasshopper warbler. A trip to Unst produced Red throated Pipit and our first Parrot Crossbills. On day 5 we finally caught up with one of several Little Buntings on the islands as well as the star bird for many, an American Buff-bellied Pipit.
American Buff bellied Pipit

Little Bunting

Parrot Crossbill, Lerwick

Short toed Lark

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Draycote Water

Wednesday 27th Sept. 2017

A few images from Draycote Water this week.

Ruff

Little Stint

Little Stint

Wheatear

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A week in the South West- Birds edition

Thursday 21st September 2017

Summary of an eventful couple of weeks celebrating Jan's 70th. It started with a family break at Exmouth/Topsham moved on to a week in the Scilly Isles, courtesy of Jan's sister Gill, and finished with a short stay with old friends in rural Somerset. The pace was leisurely and mainly relaxed. Birdwatching was minimal with little migration noted although it would have been rude not to have had a look at the Semi-palmated Sandpiper on St Mary's or noticed the previously un-noted Yellow browed warbler on Bryher.
Jan, the Birthday girl

70 ?  Nah

Jan

Portugese man of War, one of several on Porthloo beach

Semi palmated Sandpiper, Lower Moors

Semi-palmated Sandpiper

Greenshank

Whinchat
Apologies for the lack of 'family' images but I used my phone camera which I'm taking time to download.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Late August

The rest of August

Apart from a fruitless twitch to Portland. Birding has focussed on bits of habitat along the Anchor valley near home, searching for returning migrants. Whinchats have been plentiful particularly around the Caldecote Hall area, there was also a good passage of Yellow wagtails in the cattle fields near Mancetter quarry, Hartshill  peaking at some 30 birds. 3 Spotted Flycatchers were noted in canal side bushes near to the Anchor pub Hartshill. A day out at Draycote Water was disappointing not only because of the lack of birds but also because somebody drove into my car while it was parked up in the car park and cleared off. Nice people!

Another generation of Swallows
Black tail. Godwit, Draycote Water
Yellow wagtail
Yellow wagtail
Spotted Flycatcher
Red Kite, Garden
Turnstone, Draycote Water
Whinchat, Mancetter
Whinchat, Caldecote

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Cornwall and Beyond

Tuesday 18th July 2017

Not much to report on the local front but events further afield have been interesting to say the least. Just over a week ago news of an Amur Falcon at Lands End had the pulses racing. A call from John H. was very welcome and we were soon off, reaching Cornwall by daybreak. We scanned the distant trees, hedges and wires in the area where the bird had been presumed to roost. It came as a relief and something of a shock when someone said the bird was, in fact just a few yards down the road from where we had parked. Sitting in  roadside vegetation.

Amur Falcon, Cornwall

Amur Falcon

Amur Falcon

Then it was off to Madeira with my dear wife. Somewhere we had never been before with the chance of a couple of W.P. ticks. To increase my chances I booked a half day trip to the Laurel forest with Windbirds. Cracking views of Madeiran Firecrest on the Levada walk but the Trocaz pigeon was more wary. Hotel balcony birds included: Pain Swift, Yellow legged Gull, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Atlantic Canary, Blackcap and Cory's Shearwater.

Canary

Canary

Chaffinch

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Ups and Downs

Thursday 29th June 2017

Well, its been a while since I've seen much very interesting. I seem to have missed more than I've seen by way of Birdlife. Missing the Corncrake at Alvecote while I was on hols was a big disappointment, then dithering about cost me the Elegant tern. There have been one or two local birds - the Middleton Red necked Phalarope was well worth seeing as were the 4 Bee - eaters at East Leake, Notts. and the Spotted Sandpiper at Belvide. A Red Kite circling over ,the soon to become houses, fields off Higham lane was a bedroom window tick but that's about it really. Also found a couple of localish sites for Grey Partridge although one of the sites is in Leics. A few images from the past 6 weeks :
Spotted Sandpiper, Belvide Res. Staffs

Spotted Flycatcher, local site

Red necked Phalarope, Middleton lakes RSPB

Red Kite, over garden !