Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ladywalk NR 23/03 and Upper Bittel 24/03

Dad asked me to find him a Brambling as we never saw one on 2009 so a quick search on Brian's excellent website- I soon saw that a Female was being seen regularly at Ladywalk NR.

Arriving at the reserve at around 9:30am Chiffchaff was heard as soon as we got out the car and on the way to the hide at least 6 different birds were heard singing. Arriving at the Sainsbury's hide where it had been seen from almost straight away a Willow Tit dropped in showing its bull neck, white cheek and pale wing panel. Patiently waiting for about 30mins the female Brambling made an appearance around the bottom of the feeders. Mission complete! Other birds seen included 5 Pheasant, 10+ Reed Bunting, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Female Goosander and several Gadwall.

Moving round to the Riverwalk hide yet more Chiffchaff were heard singing and 5 Goosander were on the river along with several Tufted Duck and 2 Grey Wagtail. Once in the hide scanning around the pool Little Grebe were calling frequently, 10 Gadwall were displaying, 46 Shoveler seemed like a lot for this time of the year and 2 Redshank were over the back. Several more Goosander dropped onto the pool and 3 Sand Martin and a showy Muntjac deer concluded the trip nicely.

2 More year ticks takes me onto 123 for the year.

Today whilst sitting in Chemistry at college I received a text from Brian Stretch informing me that there were 4 adult Whooper Swans at Upper Bittel Reservoir, I didn't finish till 1 and there was only one way of telling if they were going to stick around!

Arriving around 1:15 a very fast walk along the Ash Path to Upper Bittel saw us arriving not long after. As we walked up a guy said they were still present in the far corner but when we got there they weren't to be seen! Had they flew or just were they hiding up the corner?! Not long later they swan out from the corner all 4 Adult Whooper Swans showing well if not a bit distant. 4 Sand Martin flew over and 2+ Chiffchaff could be heard singing. Walking back down the path and to the smaller pools there was a single un-ringed ad Barnacle goose associating with the Canada Geese. Checking out the field at the end of the Ash path showed a single male Wheatear perched on the fence. Rounding off the trip nicely and putting me onto 125 for the year.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Upton 19th and 21st

A late start at college so decided to head over to Upton in the morning.

Arriving at the flashes at around 9o'clock it was glorious sunshine and I quickly picked out an Little Ringed Plover, my first summer migrant and very much welcome. 4 Avocet, 6+Snipe, 2 Shelduck and 2 Oystercatcher were all present. Not long into the morning and I picked up 2 Sand Martin moving over quickly although they were heading  SW and I thought that was a bit strange? c30 Lapwing flew around setting up territories and 24 Teal flew off the sewerage pools at the back, 4 Lesser Black Backed Gulls passed over and a Male Tufted Duck appeared on the 1st Flash. 1 Raven flew distantly past the sewage works and was later seen soaring with 2 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk. Around 7 Buzzards were seen soaring on thermals around the flashes and a Curlew dropped in. 2 more Sand Martin flew over SW also and a 2nd winter Common Gull flew through. 

Heading over the Moors quickly noted the Little Egret present 4 Oystercatchers (2 birds from the flashes), the pair of Gadwall and 2+ singing male Cetti's. 46 Tufted Duck were displaying and pairing up and 4 female Pochard were scattered around. 18 Great Crested Grebe including several displaying pairs (and a bird still in winter plumage which made me think slav!) 2 Little Grebe came out from the reeds and only about 5 Cormorant were loafing on the island. An LRP dropped onto the Island for about 30secs before going back over the flashes and a 1st winter Common Gull hung around. 5 Pied Wagtails flew down but no whites in with them and a Green Woodpecker called. My first Chiffchaff was found flitting around the reeds down to the right of the east hide which was nice to see.

4 New upton year ticks takes me onto 80 for the year there.

A new job and a new year tick! Whilst at work I heard calling and drumming of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker then saw it high up in an oak! A nice little bonus whilst at work.

Back down to Upton this morning where we were welcomed by mist! Heard a Nuthatch call from within the Education Reserve but mist put pay to trying to see it! Could barely see a thing from the flashes hide but fourtunatly a single Redshank was in front and managed 4 Avocet and 1 LRP through the mist! A male Lapwing was busily creating a scrape on the newly mown grass in front and a Meadow Pipit called from overheard but the fog prevented my second possible year tick of the day.

Moving onto the Moors where a dead toad was in the road and a Chiffchaff was singing along the path to the east hide and was a notably paler more grey bird than Friday's. Only the one Little Egret was seen but two were seen yesterday, female Pochard had increased to 6, interesting that there all female? (Answers on a postcard.) 3 Herring and 3 Lesser BB Gulls loafed on the platforms and 1 Little Grebe moved out of the reeds. A fox was asleep again in the reeds in front of the fox fence! And 2 Shelduck flew back over the flashes.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Upton Warren

Two trips to Upton on Sunday and Tuesday so I thought I'd combine it into one post.

Starting with Sunday 7th March. Early start at the Moors with Phil Andrews to get some birding in before the work party at the Flashes. Walking up to the East Hide from the car park picked up 7 Lesser Redpoll in Alders feeding away, arriving in the East hide at around 8am it was a frosty start but not that much of the pool was frozen only really Amy's and the Broadmeadow Pool. 4 Oystercatcher were quarrelling with each other and a nice pair of Gadwall were on the East Island. 2 Shelduck loitered around in between the islands and a pair of Raven were displaying towards the A38 field their deep cronks sounding out across the pools. Counts of other birds included 11 Great Crested Grebe, 16 Teal, 17 Shoveler, 14 Cormorant, 8 Lapwing, 4 Snipe, 19 Tufted Duck, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Little Grebe and 9 Curlew.

Moving over to the Flashes for the start of the work party managed 3 Avocet before starting work. Walking out across the area in between the 2nd and 3rd Flash it was mainly frozen but around 10 Snipe and 3 Jack Snipe were flushed and 58 Teal flew off. A check of the fox fencing along the back found no obvious holes, so we got on with cutting the grass in preparation for the breeding birds returning. With 21 people at the work party! We soon got all the work done including re-shingling the islands, installing a secondary fox fence and trimming the blackthorn in front of the hide. 2 Oystercatchers came and landed on the deck while we were working, 3 Buzzards displayed and a Kestrel called. Best bird of the day was however found when me Gert and Phil went for a walk over the back and a male Stonechat was spotted by Gert.  First of the year for the reserve and a quick few phone calls between us and the guys in the hide to try to get them onto it but it flew off towards the transmitter masts. Due to a few of us having a little competition going with the year list here Dave wasn't to happy that Phil had now taken top spot off him! Luckily the Stonechat reappeared and everyone got onto it.

Moving back to the Moors till dark nothing really extra noted apart from 2 Fieldfare that roosted in the reed bed and then a male Sparrowhawk which then flushed another and promptly caught it just as it was going dark.

All in all 3 year ticks with Gadwall, Avocet and Stonechat taking me to 76 for my Upton year list.

Moving onto today 9th March started out at the Flashes with the usual suspects being around highlights including 3 Avocet, 4 Oystercatcher, 3 Shelduck of which the two males were constantly chasing one another, 1 Peregrine on the masts, 2 Cetti's Warbler sang from the Hen Brook and the male Stonechat making the most of the new fox fence. Counts of other birds included 12 Curlew, 88 Lapwing, 52 Black-headed Gull, 1 Buzzard, 72 Teal, 2 Greylag and 4+ Linnet.

Moving across to the Moors where the Work party were busy working out in front of the east hide re-shingling the islands and tidying things up ready for the breeding season. Bird highlights included 3 Oystercatcher that flew in high from the South and then flew round trying to find somewhere to settle but flew off to the north so possibly not birds from the Flashes so 7 birds across the reserve? The pair of Gadwall remained and the Little Egret flew across the pool and landed in the overhanging trees. 2 Cetti's Warbler sang from the reed beds as well as a Water Rail and a Little Grebe put in a brief appearance right in front of the hide and called several times. Counts of other birds included 13 Great-crested Grebe, 1 Kestrel, 20 Tufted Duck, 17 Pochard, 16 Shoveler, 1 Greylag, 6 Teal, 2 Mute Swan, 1 Shelduck (kicked off the Flashes) 27 Cormorant, 41 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Collared Dove, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Greenfinch, 3 Bullfinch, c17 Reed Bunting, 6 Chaffinch, female Sparrowhawk, 1 Herring Gull and 2 Lesser Black Backed Gulls.

Sorry for the lack of photos but my brother has borrowed the camera for his uni work! If not I could have shown you the excellent work achieved on the flashes and even the stripes Simon managed to get in the grass there!

Also thought I'd add a few websites that could be interesting to anyone if they read this blog. is a great website for wind and pressure forecasts across Britain, France and Spain so you can keep an eye out for when migrants might arrive etc Really interesting blog with ringing recoveries from the BTO some quite unbelievable.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Upton 02/03

Went to Upton this morning from about 9:30-12

Started out in the Education reserve trying to get Treecreeper and Goldcrest on the year list to no joy, plenty of the usual plus Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker. 11 Greylags were on the Sailing pool and a Rook flew over the car park so I headed over the flashes.

On the way to the hide I finally managed the Peregrine perched on the left hand mast. Getting in the hide a guy said that earlier there had been a few Golden Plover in the ploughed field but had flown off, probably while I was looking round the eddy! A quick scan revealed a pair of Redshank (first this year) a Cetti's Warbler sang along with lots of other birds and a real bright sunshine gave a real feel of spring. An Oystercatcher was in-between the 2nd and 3rd flash. Counts of other birds included 16 Curlew, 47 Teal, 157 Black-headed Gull (several displaying and defending territories), 7 Linnet, 2 Shelduck, 7 Coot and 15+ Snipe.

Walking over to the moors west hide the work party was out in front of the east hide so most birds where in the north corner. 2 Little Grebe and 2 Oystercatchers were the highlights and the Little Egret put in a brief appearance flying towards the sailing pool. Counts of other birds included 36 Coot, 7 Great Crested Grebe, 29 Shoveler, 19 Tufted Duck (males were in pursuit of females definite sign of spring) 21 Pochard, 2 Mute Swan, 4 Teal, 45 Canada Geese (vast majority paired up) 18 Cormorant, 40+ Black Headed Gulls, 15+ Reed Bunting (males starting to get nice and dark now) 2 Cetti's Warbler, 1 Buzzard and 4 Lapwing.

All in all 2 year ticks with Redshank and Peregrine takes me to 73. Hopefully will get Golden Plover at the work party this weekend!