Saturday, 26 March 2011

Cannock Chase and Belvide

With the weather being rather grey today the plan was to stay fairly local so a trip to Cannock Chase to hopefully see the Shrike finally!! and then the Black Necked Grebe at Belvide. Well that was the plan.

Getting to the Chase it was very grey so the thought of finding a grey bird against a grey back drop didn't fill me with much hope but if you don't try you don't succeed.
Plenty of Woodpecker activity with a pair fending off their patch from an invader was good to watch, also picked up Green Woodpecker while watching these fight it out.
A first  scan around didn't pick up the Shrike but I did find a couple of Wood Lark one which was displaying so was good to get my ear in a learn their call.

Wood Lark Cannock Chase
I kept walking around hoping to find the elusive Shrike, after a while I did think I was going to dip again just picking up Yellow Hammer to add to my list.
Then after shortly taking to a group of birders it appeared if by magic on its favorite Holly tree. Things were looking up, just now had to bag that record shot. By the time I got in position it had flown further back up the hill so I thought it safe to cross the valley and try and hide behind a Birch tree and get a shot.

Great Grey Shrike
It did fly back to its Holly tree where I watched it for a while and saw it go into the centre of the bush, I am assuming that where its keeping its larder and probably where it was hiding the other times I missed it.

Was then off to Belvide to try and see the Black Necked Grebe I wasn't holding out hope of photographing the bird I assumed as last time I saw one there it would be way out of reach of my lens, and so it was being over by the far corner of the dam. But at least I can say I saw it. Plenty of Chiff Chaff around so although it didn't feel like spring it at least sounded like it.

Up Anley Duck

Went up Hanley on the 24 Mar to the well known birding hot spot that is the bus station to see a few Waxwing that had called in on their way home ward.

There were not as many as last time I visited here to see these birds a couple of years ago but I shouldn't moan as I did get to see 5 of these beauties.

Nothing like a good Scratch

Waxwing at Hanley bus station.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Martin Mere

Lesley fancied treating her self to a new scope in the shape of the Mighty Midget, so it was off today to the Infocus shope at Martin Mere and then just to have a general wander around the site.
A real dull day today compared to yesterday so much for spring although again we heard a Chiffchaff and again we couldn't see it. Even hear one from the garden but still to spy that fellow as well.
Just the usual suspects were seen we couldn't find the Smew that has being showing from the Harrier hide but there was plenty of other birds to see.
On the feeders by the Infocus and Janet Kear hide were Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Brambling, Green and Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker plus the usual Tits.
From the other hides Whooper Swan, Pink Footed Goose, Ruff, Avocet, Black Tailed Godwit, Redshank and Ringed Plover were seen.
Here are a few shots from the day.

There's More to Moore

Paid Moore a visit on Saturday in the hope of seeing a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, found its usual spot but no joy. We meet a couple of chaps who put in 4 hours last weekend but still didn't see anything so our 30 minutes didn't really stand a chance.
But we still enjoyed our walk around in the spring sun shine.
Up at the hide near the tip Lesley spotted a couple of foxes chasing one another, then a few minutes latter one was in hot pursuite of a rabbit but it got away.
On the lake were Gadwall, Goldeneye, Shovler, Little and Great Crested Grebe and Common Gull. The usual Tits and Chaffinch were seen in the woods along with Great Spotted Woody. Getting back to the car we picked up a Kestrel. Below are a few shots from our afternoon out.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

To the End of the World

Well to be honest it was just a trip to Wales a place called Worlds End, another new spot for Lesley and me to visit with the chance to bag a lifer for the pair of us in the shape of Black Grouse, there was also a chance of a bonus bird in the shape of a Dartford Warbler.
Managed to find the place Ok, looks like a very interesting place and well worth another visit not just wildlife wise but to see the lead mine close by.
We were by no means the first there but managed to park up all right, soon joined a group of birders watching the Dartford Warbler, these are great looking birds and I even like their scratchy call. Even bumped into a fellow Staffs birder Neil there.
Meadow Pipit at Worlds End
While waiting to grab a shot of the warbler we saw a Meadow Pipit which I got a rather distant shot of.
Soon the Dartford came well within range must have been only a couple of meters away, giving great views and allowing me to enjoy its call and fantastic red eye.

Dartford Warbler at Worlds End

Then it was a case of fingers crossed for the Black Grouse which we eventually saw with 7 birds flying across the valley, to add to this we also had a Crossbill and a distant view of a Goshawk which meant we had bagged two lifers!

From here it was a short hop to the coast to allow Lesley to see the Snow Bunting which I had already bagged. We soon came across the pair not too far along the prom, right by the sea wall which gave Lesley another lifer was proving to be a good day for her.

After a spot of lunch it was onto the Conwy RSPB reserve always a good place to go. Here we picked up Goosander, Tufted Duck, Pied Wagtail, Siskin, Goldfinch, Lapwing and Shelduck.

In all a fantastic day the weather was great, met some great birders and saw some great birds.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Purple Patch

After last weeks success in seeing the Snow Bunting and of hearing about the possibility of Purple Sandpiper a bird that although I have seen on a few visits to New Brighton I had yet to get a shot of one. They were either in the wrong place or fast asleep when I ever went to New Brighton.
So I decided to give Rhos on Sea a go today.

Firstly called in again at Kinmel Bay again to try and get a better shot of the Snow Bunting, they didn't seem that flighty today which was good for me, didn't have to keep lugging my scope, camera etc up and down the beach. I even found them quite quickly which was even better.

Snow Bunting Kinmel Bay

Then it was off to Rhos on Sea for a bit of wader spotting before getting back to the car I managed to grab a shot of some Sandling, I love these little waders how they dash around the place just ahead of the tide, reminds me of myself as a small kid playing in the sea.


At Rhos I found a likely area, as all I knew was to head for Rhos on Sea, the spot I chose was a small harbour like spot with a break water just off shore. Scanning this I found Redshank, Turnstone, Herring Gull, Black Headed Gull and Oystercatcher. But no Purple Sandpiper was feeling like I was going to dip, but thought before I called it a day I would take a walk along the prom.
There on the rocks just below the prom were waders and quite a few of them, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and loads of Turnstone (never seen so many Turnstone in one spot) and all just metres away. Kept walking along until I eventually found my quarry in the shape of a Purple Sandpiper feeding with some Turnstone, they are great looking birds rather dumpy but cute at the same time.

Purple Sandpiper

Then found this Pipit, which has been identified by the chaps of the Bird Forum as being a Rock Pipit, which is a new photo record for me. When I looked in various books it kept flipping between Water & Rock, so its good to get a positive id on the bird.

Rock Pipit