Friday, February 26, 2010


Thought I'd do a quick update.

Went to Bittel Reservoir twice last week on 20th and 22nd. Managed a great count of 63 Goosander on the 20th and 28 on the 22nd, just shows how numbers here are affected by freezing weather as it was a lot more frozen on the 22nd! Other birds of note on the 20th were about 20 Siskin along the ash path and  also a flock of 40+ Linnet and 2 Barn Owl pellets along a public footpath behind the reservoirs, which had 2 skulls in one a lot bigger than the other. 22nd I managed 30+ Siskin and c8 Redpoll along the Ash path as well as a 1st Winter Great Black Backed Gull on Upper.

One skull in each one large and one small maybe a mouse and a vole?

This shows the larger of the 2 skulls.

You can just about see Upper Bittel in the distance

Went to Upton on 23rd and had the Little Egret in the far corner of the Sailing Pool again and a Rook over the Flashes feeding station taking me up to 70 for the year list there. Also a lot of pollarding had occurred around the Salwarpe at the moors so thought I'd take some photos to show whats happened there.

And finally today went in search of a rare grebe just south of Redditch and sure enough found a Slavonian Grebe on a small pool in Feckenham Wylde Moor NR. Stunning bird showing really well fabulous lifer and I'd definitely recommend going for it, I attempted at some photos but they were rather shocking considering how close it was! But it shows the key features of pale tipped bill, straight line of black/white on the check and the head peaking at the rear, a nice comparison with the Black Necked Grebe I had at Freiston not long ago. This bird also seemed more in proportion with a bigger head than the Black Necked.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lincs and Leics 15/02

Carrying on from yesterdays epic post this post will cover my trip to Baston and Langtoft Pits and Rutland Water.

After a quick bit of research on the Internet I was able to locate a working gravel pits that are meant to have a regular flock of Red Crested Pochard so a slight detour on the way home towards Baston and Langtoft pits and heading towards the Gull pit where they has last been reported. Pulled up by Gull pit and sure enough there they were Red Crested Pochard, in total I counted 45! This was a much appreciated bird to get back on my Dad who managed to get the brief pair at Bartley Reservoir and I thought that they may turn into a bit of a blocker but luckily not! Quite a few Wigeon and Tufted Duck were also on the pit.

With still plenty of daylight hours left and the fact that we would be driving practically straight past Rutland Water we decided to stop off and see what could be seen. Not long later we were pulling up in the car park and made our way towards the visitor centre brought our permits and decided that although we could remember such birds as GNDiver and Scaup reported recently we decided that it was the regular roost of Long Eared Owl behind the Fieldfare hide that we most wanted to see.

From the visitor centre I counted around 15 Goosander and 30+ Chaffinch around the feeders. We started walking towards the Fieldfare hide and on the way a couple of guys said that there were 2 Owls that could be seen from the path one showing really well apparently. So we quick end our pace and soon were in the area that they were meant to be. A Jay flew over and a single Lesser Redpoll was in a Silver Birch and we by now were saying ''trip tick'' far too much! Walking down the path my Dad started getting annoyed thinking that we were in the wrong area and that the owls would be impossible to find! We then walked a little further and he went ''Oh actually look there'' and sure enough 2 Long Eared Owls were perched one in full view and the other obscured only about 15yards from the path! WOW both had their ear tufts raised and you could see the lovely orange eyes. Couple of photos taken and we then went into the Fieldfare hide were lots of Coot were as well as several Goldeneye, Wigeon and Gadwall.


Walking back round the other side in an attempt to get Smew on Lagoon 3 failed but we did see a rather plastic Ruddy Shelduck asleep there! Now my Dad has ticked it just because he thinks it could be gen and that he's already seen one at Upton! I have chosen to not lower my self to such desperate bird ticking and it will just be noted in my note book as plastic and will not feature on my list... I may eat my words if I find one at Upton though!

All in all 93 different species of bird seen, not including the Ruddy Shelduck or a possible Bittern that my Dad had fly over the M42 in the dark on the way home when I was asleep!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lincolnshire 15/02

After weeks of planning we set off at 4:05am our first stop would be Freiston Shore RSPB. I warn you now this is going to be a very long post!

Arriving just as it was starting to get light at 6:20am we pulled into the car park got out, got wrapped up as it was bitterly cold had a quick scan of the lagoon and could see large numbers of waders roosting on the lagoon as it was high tide. I picked out grebe larger than a little but smaller than a Great Crest but it was still to dark so we decided to walk on up to a hide that overlooked the lagoon. We stopped to read an information sign when my Dad pointed up and said 'O look Tree Sparrow' I thought he was pointing at a picture on the sign but then heard the chirping slightly different from House Sparrow and sure enough in the bush only 2foot away were around 15 Tree Sparrow, nice bird to catch up with on the year list after only seeing them for the first time last year! Walking on up the path and into the hide we started to scan the vast amounts of waders to see what was there. Around 1000 Oystercatcher we constantly calling and flying around some still with the white neck line of winter plumage, also c1200 Knot 500+ Dunlin and 700+ Lapwing made up the main bulk of the waders. More careful searching of the large flock revealed c20 Turnstone, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit 50+ Redshank, c10 Golden Plover and 4 Black-tailed Godwit. Our attention then turned to the Little Grebe, around 6 were scattered around the lagoon and in amongst them was 1 Black-necked Grebe, first lifer of the day a really nice bird diving constantly not to far from the hide but unfortunately left the camera in the car! D'oh! 3 Little Egrets dropped onto the far shoreline and a White Fronted Greylag fooled us for a split second. Other birds noted on the lagoon were 10+ Shelduck, c50 Wigeon 2 Tufted Duck, 30+ Snipe and 11 Goldeneye.

Walking out of the hide and towards the Salt marsh and Sea there were several more Tree Sparrow along the hedgerow and waders were now moving off flying low over head towards the shoreline too feed. There was a small sea watching hut further down and several Meadow Pipits were flying overhead. Scanning the shoreline were birds were feeding revealed several hundred Brent Geese feeding and flying around., 150+ Dunlin and 100 Golden Plover all busily feeding in with hoards of Knot and Oystercatcher. Scanning the sea resulted in 4 Red-breasted Merganser (2m2f) and 2 Eider. Whereas in Norfolk the sea generally has rafts of Common Scoter here there were quite a few Wigeon congregating off shore. A Peregrine flew quickly through attempting to make a quick Dunlin breakfast but was unsuccessful. Around 30 Herring Gull and a few Great-black Backed Gulls lingered off shore and a pair of Goldeneye where diving fairly close in. Another Peregrine came through rising and stooping onto the waders and as I went to get it through the scope I spotted a stunning male Hen Harrier flying overhead! Excellent views were obtained of this stunning bird as it flew across the salt marsh scaring Meadow Pipit as it went over. The sun was getting a bit higher in the sky now and we tried to make a distant Kestrel into a Merlin but it was a Kestrel.

Walking back towards the car waders were still moving off the Lagoon and down onto the shore flying really low over our heads giving really nice views. Closer to the car park several Redwing and Fieldfare were feeding in the hedgerow, a large flock of Greenfinch and Goldfinch were feeding in a Silver Birch. Getting back to the car got a distant record shot of the BNgrebe and a few shots of the Lagoon.

Driving back into Boston where there had been a showy pair of Waxwing in a swimming pool car park. Postcode programmed into the Sat Nav and we soon arrived in the swimming pool car park where there was a small cherry tree as you went in. Stayed here for about 15 mins or so waiting for them to show with no luck. Went into a local cafe and got some breakfast and returned to see if the Waxwing were showing but still no luck. Off to Frampton Marsh RSPB.

Arriving at Frampton Marsh RSPB we walked into the new visitor centre that had nice views across several pools and noted a Barn Owl flying along the far fence line. Also on the pools were 16 Mute Swan, 10+ Greylag Geese, 20+ Canada Geese around 30 Coot and lots of Mallard. After picking up a map we decided to head straight to the 360 hide where several good birds would hopefully await us. Walking down the path to the hide a flock of around 20 Snow Bunting were flying around over the pools  Entering the hide which was all brand new, we started to scan the waders/wildfowl in front of us. 300+ Lapwing were mixed in with about the same amount of Golden Plover also several Redshank and a few Dunlin were scattered around. In with the large numbers of Teal, Wigeon and Brent Geese were several Gadwall and about 6 Pintail. We soon heard the distinctive sound of a large flock of small finch which landed in front of the hide. They were Twite, around 80 briefly landed in front of the hide and quickly moved on never staying still for too long, I noticed one was sporting some bling, with around 4 colour rings on its legs but they flew off quickly not allowing me to get the combination. Looking around to the left and scanning the bank where the flock of Snow Bunting were flying around with several Skylark. Scanning them while they were on the deck I soon found a single Lapland Bunting! 2nd lifer of the day but the flock flew off again, my dad was starting to get a little annoyed! They soon settled down a little further off where careful scanning revealed around 4 Lapland Bunting feeding on a small bank along with Reed Bunting and Skylark. Really neat birds with some being better marked than others but all stunning. 

Whilst scanning these everything got up and the culprit and Female Merlin quickly followed by another Male Hen Harrier! Mega! At one point had them both in one bin view. The female perched up and then quickly went chasing after the Skylark which managed to evade it. The male Hen Harrier floated over the back and over the high bank. A Little Egret was distant and a Male Sparrowhawk was perched up on the far fence line. Lots of Brent Geese were moving off in the distance around 1000 or so. Walking out of this hide and towards the Reed Bed hide two White-fronted Geese flew over. Nothing much else was noted in this hide, the Sand Marting bank which I'd seen in an article on Birdguides could be seen, something I think would be great at Upton so I took a few photos.

Driving back into Boston again to try for the Waxwing again, would it be 3rd time lucky? Arriving in the car park again there was no sign of them in the cherry tree so we parked up and started to wait again. Not long after this I quickly picked up on a Waxwing flying in from straight in front of us, but it didn't stop in the tree and flew over the car. Quickly jumping out of the car managed to pick it up with another in a tall tree. This bird then flew off leaving the one in the tree. This 2nd bird then flew into a slightly closer tree but didn't fancy any cherries for now! A few crummy shots were taken and it was also heard calling. A nice bird to see when they seem to have been fairly rare this winter.

Wow thats a long write up, I think i'll finish the last half of this trip in another post shortly.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lincs and Leics 15/02

A few quick pictures from my trip to Lincs and Leics, will do a full post tomorrow.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Morton Baggot 13/02

Really wanted to get the Great Grey Shrike that has been seen here recently so decided to go and try again today.

Arrived around 11:40 parked up and started walking down the path towards the pools where it has been frequenting. Walking down the path starting chatting to a guy who had seen it 40 mins earlier along the hedge opposite. around 100 Linnet where in the ash tree along the path and 10+ Mallard where on the pools. Walking left along the hedge line there where 2 Rats in the field seemingly unaware of me being there. Stopping in the corner to start scanning for the shrike showed a Kestrel hovering nearby and large flocks of Woodpigeon and Stock Dove moving in th distance. Not long later located the Shrike! One Great Grey Shrike was in the top of an oak at the bottom of the drive where it stayed for a good 20 mins before flying down into the hedge, even hovering for a bit. It then flew back into the top of the oak, obviously a very good lookout. It then flew down onto the ground looking for earthworms apparently. It then hoped up onto  post and a large flock of Linnet flew over and it flew with them and was lost to view.

Walking back towards a few other guys who said they saw it take down a small bird and fly off with it! After this it flew into a hedge and we never saw it again. Walking back towards the car triumphant after finally connecting with Great Grey Shrike noted a massive flock of Linnet estimated at around 400+ and they were all perched on a wire and so I took several photos as they wouldn't all fit in one shot! Later on compressed them all into one photo (below) and counted 489! And there were still flocks of about 50 flying around, I'd say there are easily 600+ in the area.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Morton Baggot 12/02

Decided to try late on to go for the Great Grey Shrike that had been reported for the last 2 days here.

Arrived on site at around 3:40 and met a guy from Nature England? who said that he was working in cooperation with the farmer here to manage his land for wildlife, pointing out a Beetle Bank which is where the farmer leaves a strip of land on the edge of the field for the birds to eat the seeds off over the winter, this obviously works as there was several large flocks of Linnet around including one 400+! Walking west towards the pools at the bottom a Kestrel flew out of the tree there and we started scanning the hedges where the Shrike had been seen earlier in the day. No luck here and a quick scan of the lakes where a Little Egret had been seen earlier only produced 2 Mute Swan and 6 Mallard. Walking south along the track bumped into Paul from previous Upton work parties also looking out for the Shrike, a Yellowhammer flew off and a Stonechat was in the hedge. Standing in the corner searching the hedges didn't produce any sign of the Shrike and with the light fading and a bitterly cold wind we called it a day. Great Grey Shrike is now officially a bogey bird for me! Tried to connect with this species more times than I can remember must be easily double figures now! Will try again tomorrow or Sunday if I get time, fingers crossed!

Upton Warren 12/12

After being put back on my mom's car insurance! I decided to head out to Upton Warren to see what might be around.

Arriving at the Moors it was nice and sunny but still bitterly cold. Headed over towards the East Hide and on the path there managed to hear the male Siskin again but he quickly flew off when I got too close. Carrying on down the path a few Chaffinch and Long Tailed Tit buzzed around and 2 Robins were chasing each other. Once in the hide at around 11:45am I could see that there was about 15% ice coverage on the pools. Only the one Oystercatcher has returned so far hopefully will be joined by some more soon. Started the usual counting of all the birds there and managed- 19 Snipe, 47 Black headed Gulls, 10 Curlew, 5 Mute Swan one pair was constantly chasing a single male and then 2 1st winters, 2 Shelduck, 9 Canada Geese, 36 Coot, 2 Grey Heron, 10 Cormorant, 57 Lapwing, 21 Teal, 38 Pochard (remembering that John taught me how to count them!) 34 Shoveler, 20 Tufted Duck, 18 Mallard, 3 Moorhen and, 1 Male Pied Wagtail.

Staying in the hide started talking with a gentleman in there who was telling me about how he convinced himself that he'd found a Juv Spotted Sandpiper over the flashes about 10 years ago but then the other guys in the hide said it wasn't and he never submitted it? Bit odd really! A female Sparrowhawk flew through and was quickly mobbed by a Crow and all the Lapwing got up. Several Stock Dove were moving around, and carefully scrutiny of the corvids moving around at the back I manage to find 2 Raven flying over. A Kestrel hovered distantly and a Song Thrush was along the path back to the car park.

Decided to walk along the North Moors trail to see if any Woodcock were around and had c15 Goldfinch 6+ Blackbird and several Dunnock around but no sign of any Woodcock. All in all 2 new Upton year ticks takes me up to 69 for the year.

Upton Warren 07/02

It was the Upton Warren monthly work party so we got down to the moors for about 8 o'clock to do a bit of birding before starting work over at the flashes.

Walking towards the West Hide there was 20 Greylag Geese in the A38 field (reserve record count) then once in the hide I noted 4 Wigeon (2M 2F), 2 Shelduck, 16 Shoveler, about 30 Pochard, 41 Cormorant and several Great Crested Grebe. Staying here for a bit before moving round to the East Hide where I counted 22 Coot, c65 Lapwing 33 Teal and 15+ Tufted Duck. Met Phil Andrews in this hide and then walked back round to the West Hide where John Belsey was we loaded up the cars with strimmers and everything we'd need for the work party. Gordon Greaves also showed us some very interesting photos, one of the moors from 1961 when there were horses on where the broad meadow is now I think?!

Arriving at the Sailing pool Mike Wakeman put us onto a female Goosander, a good Upton year tick. We then unloaded the cars and were joined by Dave Walker and Graham B just after the Goosander had flown off, Dave wasn't too happy!

Getting down to the Flashes we walked out across the strip of land between the 2nd and 3rd Flash and flushed 62 Snipe and 6 Jack Snipe. A flock of around 15 Linnet were darting around and we soon got on with strimming the grass in front of the hide for breeding Redshank and Lapwing and hopefully a few Wheatear and Yellow Wagtails on passage. Whilst doing the work around 400+ Large Gulls were moving over mainly Lesser Black Backed but with some Herring Gull as well, I managed to pick out a 1st Winter Great Black Backed Gull but with the loud strimmers going couldn't get anyone else onto it! Later on managed to add Green Woodpecker to the year list and after lunch Mike pointed out a bird perched in the oak to the right of the sewerage works I had my bins on me and called starling a bit too quickly! It then turned to the side and I could tell it was a small falcon, quickly pointed it out to the rest of the work party where it then flew down and across the tree line where I noted a grey colouring across the back and small pointed wings all pointed towards a male Merlin, Phil quickly came running across from the 2nd flash island very nearly falling in the mud (which he did later) and everyone managed to get onto the lovely raptor before flying off behind the barns.

Once all the work had been done we went back to the Moors to see if anything had moved in during the day. 1 Little Grebe was another year tick and a high count of 57 Pochard were about. Another great day helping out at the Upton work party with 2 Upton lifers (GBBG+Merlin) and 4 other year ticks taking me to 67.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Lower Bittel and Morton Baggot area 04/02

Went to try again for the Crossbill at Lickey but waking up early morning reveled a lot of fog so thought Lickey would be covered in it. Quick change of plan and we decided to go to Lower Bittel and Morton Baggot.

Arriving at Lower Bittel I could see that the water levels were still really low so started to check for a Green Sandpiper that my Dad had got earlier in the year to no luck but there were 5 Female Goosander, 102 Teal, 1 Shoveler, 32 Mallard 2 Grey Heron 4 Mute Swan and several Black Headed Gulls. I also noted what looked to be a dead Deer that was partially submerged in the reservoir maybe had wondered onto the mud and got stuck and succumbed?

Driving onto Morton Baggot and Sherwoods feeding station where we noted 2 Marsh Tit, 2 House Sparrow, 1 Collared Dove, 4 Pheasant, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and several Blue Great and Coal tit also Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Dunnock. No sign of any Willow Tit so thought we'd go and try to find where Little Egret, Pink Footed Goose and Green Sandpiper had been reported the previous week. Soon spotted a sign to a coarse fishery and thought this was our best chance, we followed the track down to the lake where there were 16 Greylag Geese which were presumably what the Pinkfoot had previously been reported with, no sign of it today. Scanning the lake revealed a few Mallard, Coot Moorehen and a Little Grebe was asleep on the far bank.

Driving back home a large flock of 200+ Linnet, 40+ Chaffinch and c20 Goldfinch were flighty around the fields by Sherwoods rounding off the trip nicely with 2 year ticks taking me to 89.

Lickeys 01.02 and 02.02

The idea was to go to Lickey and get Crossbill, did it work?!

Went up on the 1st Feb on my own and didn't managed them in several hours searching in the wrong area (d'oh!) But several other good birds noted including several Goldcrest, Usual tits, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Thought I'd managed a male up high in a Spruce but better views from a better angle showed it to be a male Chaffinch!

Also of note I heard a Willow Tit. Was starting to walk towards the Beech trees down towards Twatling road where I was gonna try for Brambling when an unusual tit call grabbed my attention. It wasn't Coal Tit and so I decided to get my iPod out which I knew I had Marsh and Willow Tit calls on. Listening carefully to the bird calling and then my iPod it could have only of been a Willow Tit but unfortunately I didn't manage to see it which is a shame because its getting a lot scarcer in Worcs recently.

Tried again with Dad on the 2nd walked to the right part on Cofton hill where they have previously been reported. Waited around for a while waiting for them to show but was not to be. Also Marsh Tit heard, Jackdaw over and several Chaffinch also a couple of Goldfinch. Also noted that we could view down onto Upper Bittel Reservoir where we could count 26 Goosander!