Saturday, 24 December 2011

Blithfield Black Redstart

After reading reports all week of the Black Redstarts ( 1 each at Gailey and Blithfield) it was a toss up of which one to go and see.
Decided the M6 might be a total pain to drive down it was off to Blithfield.
At first there was no sign but I soon found the bird hoping around the end of the smaller of the two new ditches.
Along with the Black Redstart there were plenty of Linnet and Fieldfare on show plus Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and Goldfinch around the area.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Birthday Birding Bonanza

Decided to treat myself to a day out birding as it was my birthday, and with Lesley allowing me to go where ever I fancied a pointed the car towards North Wales.
First port of call was Kinmel Bay near Rhyl for the Snow Bunting two gents were already in position and photographing these little beauties so I did my best stealthily approach and joined them enjoying close up views of these fantastic little fellows. Also seen there was a lone Meadow Pipit and Greenfinch, missed out on the Twite which was a shame.
Next was the near by Marine Lake where a Great Northern Diver has taken up residence, these was soon found even before I got of the car, and was spending most of it's time half way between the island and the path closest to the road.
As it was getting towards lunch we headed for the RSPB reserve at Conwy this has a great coffee shop and can hold some good birds. Not that much around Siskin, Reed Bunting, Great, Blue and Coal Tits, Chaffinch, Teal, Grey Heron and Red Shank all being noted, no sign of the Firecrest.
Finally before heading home we called in at Rhos on Sea to add a few waders to the list even though it was low tide I managed to see Dunlin, Purple Sandpiper, Curlew, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher.

A great days birding and not a bad list for only 3 1/2 hours birding less travel time between the sites.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Doxy Marsh Short Eared Owl

Popped down to Doxy Marsh near Stafford this afternoon, it was full December gloom with a rather cool breeze blowing so not ideal weather but we were still hopefully we might see something.
And boy did we see something after just about entering the main body of the reserve we saw a bird of prey quartering the fields, at first we thought it was the resident Kestrel but we soon realised it was in fact a Short Eared Owl, we watched it for about 30 minutes before the drizzle and cold got the better of us and we headed back to the car.
Also seen around were Tufted Duck, Kestrel, Canada Goose, Goosander, Snipe and Grey Heron.

Monday, 5 December 2011


As I have a few days off we popped along the A50 to Attenborough we were going to head for Heysham or North Wales but the weather forcast wasn't very baby friendly for either of those two places so we went east wards instead.
Not much around just the common stuff but with the sun shining and the promise of a nice lunch it made for a pleasant walk if a liitle cool.
Managed to see Snipe, Grey Heron, Tufted Duck, Wigeon,  Teal, Gadwall, Shovler, (Lesley also found a male Golden Eye but I couldn't see it as I was on baby duties at the time), Lapwing, Mute Swan, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch and Stock Dove around the feeder plus Pied Wagtail in the car Park.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Martin Mere

As it was the North West Bird this weekend we popped up to visit as I wanted to have a look at a couple of books. Have to say it wasn't as good at as it was a couple of years ago, which is a shame with less stalls etc.
We got to see a fair few birds along side the visit to the fair Whooper Swan, Teal, Pintail, Shelduck, Lapwing, Cormorant, Wigeon, Black Headed Gull, Tree Sparrow, Pink Footed Geese plus the usual common birds. Plus a Gossander on the pool by the visitor centre in with the resident Eider Ducks which were feeling rather frisky.
There had been reports of Marsh Harrier the last few days but with the strong wind we didn't see a single raptor in fact there was much around at all.
I did decide on what book to get but as usual Amazon is cheaper so that's where I am getting the book from.
Saw the Urban Birder while we were there but we didn't get all star struck and just walked on by as the song goes.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Two for the Price of One

With yesterday's news of a Glossy Ibis and and some info off a couple of chaps on the North Wales birding forum that it was still around at dusk we decided to hold off seeing the Snow Bunting which was going to be our target bird and head for Burton Mere on the Wirral to hopefully get a life tick.

Getting there we were told it had only shown very briefly but hadn't been seen for 30 minutes, so we waited for a while in the mean time we picked up Black Tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Teal, Shovler, Wigeon, Redshank, Little Grebe and Common Gull. But after a while we decided to push little Gemma down to the hide to see what other birds we could see.
At the hide we eventually found 6 Snipe hiding amongst  some reeds I aways like seeing these birds, but better still someone had found a very well hidden Jack Snipe which we eventually got on to and even saw it bob a few times. Only saw its head but it still counted which was great as this was a first for us being a life tick.

Passing the crowd the Ibis still had not shown so it was back to the car for a spot of lunch (big mistake) as while we were eating, out came the Ibis and strutted around in front of the visitor centre by the time we heard it had flown back to the reeds.
Well what next? Head off for the Snow Bunting (an hour drive) or stick around well we did at first head off but as the weather seemed rather misty towards Wales so we turned back around. This was a great move as the Ibis was now in front of the hide and showing really well giving us our second life tick of the day. We also had a futher two bonus species in the way of a few Whopper Swans and a single Bewick in front of the visitor centre not a bad haul for a day out.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Attenborough Squacco Heron

Today had us heading down the A50 to see the Squacco Heron that had appeared at Attenborough Nature reserve. We don't usually do so called twitching but there are just some birds that you always want to see and this was one of Lesley's (she likes Heron's). So off to we went to hopefully see the bird on this new part of Attenborough, also as we know the reserve quite well it was good to explore a new area of the reserve.

On getting there we were told the bird was showing well but Gemma needed a nappy change which delayed us slightly making the walk down to see the bird. At first we couldn't see anything and didn't help I was looking in the bigger patch of reeds and not the small area between the colvets, soon though the Squacco Heron came into view and we watched it begin to fish catching two fish while we were there. A King Fisher even flew in and then quickliy out either didn't like the look of this strange bird or didn't fancy competing with it.

Squacco Heron at Attenborough Nature reserve

Squacco heron with some type of fish, it was having great success catching fish in its little spot

Another catch for the Squacco Heron

Heading off to eat its catch

The Squacco Heron showing off its neck markings as it eats it's catch, when it striked you could really see the white wings.
It was then back to the reserve for a look at the art work and to take a few more photos after all the earlier action.

Black Headed Gull at Attenborough

Black Headed Gull at Attenborough.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Gailey and Cannock Chase

Saturday was spent doing odd jobs in the garden and popping along to the beer festival so no birding was done that day.
So on Sunday we planned on heading to the wirral for the high tide but with the weather looking bleak when we drew the curtains back and the little one getting through nappy changes like mad it just didn't happen so plan B was put into action.
First port of call in the afternoon was Gailey Reservoir to hopefully see the Slav Grebe that was found the day before, only ever seen one before a rather distant although well showing one on the Pine Lakes holiday park near Leighton Moss. No sign when we turned up and everyone I spoke to also hadn't managed to connect either so it wasn't just me. Plenty of Little and Great Crested Grebe around, but maybe all of the activity on the reservoir had moved it along else where. So instead of going straight home we headed for Freda's Grave on Cannock Chase always a nice place for a Sunday afternoon walk.
Just the usual stuff around the feeders plus a few deer knocking around. On the heath we had Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Stone Chat and a couple of fly over Redwings. The strangest thing was hearing a Cuckoo calling. Redwings and a calling Cuckoo on the same day whats the world coming to!

Monday, 10 October 2011

SVR Diesel Gala

No birding this weekend as it was the annual Severn Valley Railway's diesel gala which for once had no kettles running aka steam trains, the way it should always be for diesel galas, so well done SVR.
The main aim here was to get a shot finally of 31190 in it's now rather faded BR Green livery, ever since been painted as such I have kept missing it where ever I go once by seconds, but finally here was my chance to get my shot.

D1062 arrives at Kidderminster

Slug 6 aka 37906 in plain Rail Freight grey leaves Kidderminster bound for Bridgenorth

D3201 aka 08015 sits in Kidderminster station

New London Midland class 172 172342 leaves Kidderminster station (mainline)

The old order in the shape of class 150 150132 pauses at Kidderminster station

172337 calls at Kidderminster

The ain of the days travels 31190 / D5613 pulls into Kidderminster station ready to work a shuttle service north

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Weekend Travels

With a fine weekend we made plans to head for North Wales on Saturday, this would have been a great move with a Dotterel being found on the Orme but I had forgotten about a bank appointment on the Saturday morning so like a good boy off I went to the bank in stead of birding. So in the end it was just a trip to Attenborough for the afternoon, rather hot to say the least the cars thermometer was reading 29.5C, not been like that during the summer!
With the good weather it was rather busy but as it's an easy place to push a pushchair around so was an easy place for a walk. Not too much around the high lights been 3 Snipe from the Tower Hide and 4 Black Tailed Godwits on I think what is Clifton pool in front of the screen but too far for a photo. Plenty of Dragonflies around although I only managed to get a shot of a Common Darter.

Lapwing at Attenborough

Black Headed Gull at Attenborough taking off

Common Darter at Attenborough

Sunday was a new day and our second chance to head for Wales off we set although we had lost the good weather being over cast the whole journey with even the odd spot of rain, being the ever optimist both Lesley and me had dressed for sun and had left the rain guard for the pushchair at home as well. This was a mistake as it was rather windy with the odd shower plus the paths around the Orme and not the easiest place to push a small child around. Didn't help that we didn't find any Dotterel to make walking through the wind and rain worth while.
We did see a group of 4 Goldcrest plenty of Stonechats and a few Meadow Pipits for good measure.
From here we decided on a quick visit to Rhos - on - Sea, plenty of Turnstone feeding around the boulders had 9 birds alone on one stretch of beach with smaller groups dotted around. Plenty of Oystercatcher were coming into roost on the break water as well.
It was then off home, but as we drove along the sea front past the pier the little one started to moan so we pulled over to see what was wrong. This turned out to be a great move as just by the sea wall a single Guillemot was feeding with a couple of Razorbills just a little further down a great surprise and sight having only ever seen these birds this close at the Farnes or Bempton Cliffs.

Winter plumage Guillemot at Rhos on Sea

Guillemot at Rhos on Sea

Razorbill at Rhos on Sea

Razorbill at Rhos on Sea