Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Northamptonshire Reservoirs

Grey Heron - Pitsford

Black Headed & Common Gulls - Pitsford

Reed Bunting - Hollowell

Perimeter Track - Ravensthorpe

Reed Bunting - Hollowell

Coot - Ravensthorpe

(More [boring and poor quality]Images on Website - see link opposite)

I decided to visit a trio of Northamptonshire Reservoirs, namely Pitsford, Hollowell and Ravensthorpe. A very mild and pleasant day but very quiet on the birding front. I did not meet a single birder all day - perhaps they realised there was little about.

I really must decide if I am going to watch birds or photograph them. I am struggling at the moment to maintain enthusiasm for carrying my camera when everything seems so distant. Coupled with a heavy scope, days are becoming quite knackering!

My day started at Pitsford at 0745 and rather than walking the 7 mile perimeter, I decided to walk the Scaldwell Arm. This reservoir arm actually held vast numbers of the expected wildfowl and gulls, the best being Pintail (9); Goldeneye (4); Kingfisher (1); Little Egret (1) and Red Crested Pochard (2). The feeding station by the sunken road provided Tree Sparrow (7).

Leaving Pitsford, I arrived at Hollowell at 1100, with the light against me. As I walked towards the point two Snipe were flushed from the sheep field. Again the reservoir held the usual wildfowl but few wading birds even though the water levels were very low. A single Yellow Legged Gull was spotted within the resting gulls and the reeds held a very flighty pair of Stonechat.

My final stop was at Ravensthorpe, arriving at 1230. Very little to report other than two Jay's over, a Grey Wagtail on the dam, and a Red Admiral butterfly. A Buzzard was mobbed over the "private" side of the reservoir.

Todays sightings:

Pitsford - Carrion Crow; Wood Pigeon; Lapwing; Mallard; Mute Swan; BH Gull; LBB Gull;Canada Goose; Gt Cr Grebe; Tufted Duck; Coot; Gadwall; Moorhen; Wigeon; Wren; Shoveler; Teal; Grey Lag Goose; Pochard; Goldeneye; Dabchick; Cormorant; Grey Heron; Robin; Great Tit; Blackbird; Blue Tit; Redwing; Green Woodpecker; Rook; Starling; Jackdaw; Red Crested Pochard; Little Egret; Pheasant; Skylark; Magpie; Chaffinch; Long Tailed Tit; Marsh Tit; Pintail; Common Gull; Gt Sp Woodpecker; Kingfisher; Reed Bunting; Bullfinch; Greenfinch; Tree Sparrow; Dunnock; Meadow Pipit; Pied Wagtail.

Hollowell - BH Gull; Carrion Crow; Rook; Wood Pigeon; Robin; Jackdaw; Magpie; Teal; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Wigeon; Pied Wagtail; Gadwall; Meadow Pipit; Mallard; Skylark; Gt Cr Grebe; Pheasant; Snipe; Canada Goose; Coot; LBB Gull;Collared Dove; Moorhen; Cormorant; Lapwing; Tufted Duck; Herring Gull; Common Gull; Green Woodpecker; Yellow Legged Gull; Dunnock; Stonechat; Starling; Reed Bunting; Wren; Great Tit; Long Tailed Tit; Blackbird; Blue Tit; Chaffinch.

Ravensthorpe - Jay; Magpie; Carrion Crow; Wood Pigeon; Mute Swan; Mallard; BH Gull; Coot; Moorhen; Gt Cr Grebe; Tufted Duck; Cormorant; LT Tit; Blackbird; Blue Tit; Chaffinch; Pheasant; Robin; Grey Wagtail; Pied Wagtail; Green Woodpecker; Starling; Canada Goose; Grey Lag Goose; Common Gull; Buzzard; Eigeon; Grey Heron; Gadwall; Pochard; Shoveler; Red Admiral Butterfly.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Marsh Lane West Midlands

Gadwall (early morning)

(Distant) Golden Plover



Golden Plover


Great Tit

Great Tit

Great Tit

(More Images on my Website - See Link Opposite)

The weather forecast for this morning was appalling, and since today is my only available day for birding this week, I decided to visit Marsh Lane. The rationale was that the hides are relatively close together, so if heavy rain was to fall, I could hide hop. I need not have worried, the day started cloudy and even included some sunny intervals!

My other thoughts for today were to try for the Glossy Ibis at Fishers Mill. Where? I would not have a clue where to start in that area! Also, aren't the birders in that area rather scary?!!! As a result, I still haven't seen the Glossy Ibis!

I had not been to Marsh Lane since May of this year, so a visit was long overdue. The pools were flush with the usual wildfowl and in good numbers, but nothing outside of the ordinary! On my previous visits, I have only visited the main pools, but today I ventured along the old road to the dragonfly pool and along the concrete road. Again nothing out of the ordinary!

I have read somewhere that "certain" birders have special bins that allow them to see exceptional birds whenever they go out. If someone knows where they can be purchased, I am now in the market for a pair!!!!

Best of the day was a Stonechat in front of the Oak Hide and approximately 150 Golden Plover. A Water Rail briefly appeared in front of Railway Hide. The old road hedges held large numbers of Redwing with approximately 50 Goldfinches along the concrete road. The Great Tit (old road) had obviously been bathing and was very obliging, that is until it saw me taking pics. It then seemed to turn around as if in embarrassment, covering its head in its wing, as if a towel!

Today's Sightings:

Grey Lag Goose; Jackdaw; Pheasant; Chaffinch; Carrion Crow; Wren; Wood Pigeon; Moorhen; Common Snipe; Wigeon; BH Gull; Shoveler; Mallard; Lapwing; Tufted Duck; Cormorant; Dabchick; Coot; Teal; Pochard; LBB Gull; Gadwall; Redwing; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Robin; Mute Swan; Black Swan; Water Rail; Reed Bunting; Pied Wagtail; Stonechat; Blackbird; Green Woodpecker; Magpie; Rook; Starling; Grey Heron; Meadow Pipit; Greenfinch; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Golden Plover; Nuthatch; Skylark; Goldfinch; Long Tailed Tit; Dunnock; Linnet.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Red Kite between Hillmorton and Barby

A pretty boring day shift today (0700/1900) saw me just over the border in Northamptonshire assisting colleagues from EMAS at a road traffic collision. Returning to Rugby from Barby at 1645, on the Barby Lane, a large raptor was seen over the road near the canal bridge. Red Kite! Believe it or not, this is the first Red Kite I have had so close to home (almost a garden tick!!!), superb views and NO camera!!!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Brandon Marsh

Light & Dark - Grey Lag Goose East Marsh Pool

Mute Swan - East Marsh Pool

Mute Swan - East Marsh Pool

Mute Swan - East Marsh Pool

Mute SWan - East Marsh Pool

Mute Swan - East Marsh Pool

Snipe - Carlton Pool

Cormorant - Carlton Pool

Water Rail - Carlton Pool

Water Rail - Carlton Pool

Water Rail - Carlton Pool

Water Rail - Carlton Pool

(More images on website - see link opposite)

I had not visited Brandon Marsh since August, so as the sun was shining, I decided to give it a go. The weather was superb - typically autumnal and pleasantly warm. I arrived later than usual, though, at 0930, and staying until 1245.

The reserve was not as crowded as the cars parked would suggest. The "Tuesday Crowd" were no where to be seen, but later some of them were spotted having just ringed some Barn Owlets. East Marsh Pool held all of the usual suspects, the best being a female Pintail which unfortunately refused to come into camera lens view! Passage of Redwing was very noticeable over Newlands with a small movement of Skylarks as well. Carlton Pool held a very obliging Water Rail and Common Snipe making a change from the "posy" Kingfisher which I missed.

The morning was spent taking any photographic opportunity that materialised, the results of which can be seen above, with more on my website.

Todays Sightings:

Pheasant; Robin; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; Bullfinch; Magpie; Song Thrush; Dunnock; LT Tit; Grey Lag Goose; Cormorant; Wren; Redwing; Blackbird; Great Tit; Coot; Chaffinch; Mallard; Tufted Duck; Cettis Warbler; Stock Dove; Gt Sp Woodpecker; Blue Tit; Moorhen; Lapwing; Wigeon; Canada Goose; Grey Heron; BH Gull; Jackdaw; Pochard; Dabchick; Gadwall; Snipe; Pintail (f); Mute Swan; Pied Wagtail; Jay; Skylark; Water Rail; Starling; Rook; Treecreeper.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Draycote Water

Meadow Pipit

I've paid my fee so I'll fish where I like - even if it is in Toft Shallows

Meadow Pipit


Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit

Lesser Scaup with Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck

Lesser Scaup with Tufted Duck

Lesser Scaup with Tufted Duck

(More pics on website - follow link opposite)

Well, having seen the super pictures taken (by others!) of the Draycote Lesser Scaup, I simply had to pay a visit today. It was also good to get it on my year list. Unfortunately, it was not located on my first circuit so it necessitated a second trip up to Toft Bank. It was soon located, and reasonably close in but far enough away to place my photographic efforts in with the "also ran's".

Farborough Bank held one Rock Pipit with two others on Hensborough Bank with a lone Wheatear.

Toft was the place to be if you were a fisherman with boats and bank anglers concentrated all around and some in the conservation area. I was informed that Fishermen pay a fee so can (& will) fish where thay like! Apart from the Lesser Scaup, Toft also held a Goldeneye, Pochard, Teal, Kingfisher, and Ruddy Duck.

Three Fieldfare flew over the Golf Course. Hensborough Bank produced one Ringed PloverRock Pipit and Wheatear. Raptor wise, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and two Buzzards.

A degree of excitement came with a report of three Twite on Farborough Bank. A search (with Bob D) revealed several groups of Linnet, indeed two groups of three were seen. However, three birds went down on the rocks,prior to landing I am sure I heard a call "twaa-eet", one of which was a dead ringer for Twite, with pale/yellow bill and convincing plumage. Problem was, when they flew, the call was Linnet! Ahh well, this life tick MAY have to wait! However, I still think at least one was Twite though! Now having seen Bob D's pic's of the bird, I am convinced it was a Twite! So good to get a life tick on a local patch!

Today's Sightings:

Wood Pigeon; BH Gull; Robin; Wren; LBB Gull; Coot; Moorhen; Gt Cr Grebe; Tufted Duck; Dabchick; GBB Gull; Rook; Carrion Crow; Mallard; Pied Wagtail; Cormorant; Grey Wagtail; Rock Pipit; Meadow Pipit; Mute Swan; Chaffinch; Starling; Lapwing; Gadwall; Pochard; Teal; Goldeneye; Green Woodpecker; Grey Heron; Gt Sp Woodpecker; Gt Tit; Ruddy Duck; Kingfisher; Magpie; Greenfinch; Blackbird; Dunnock; Canada Goose; Long Tailed Tit; Wigeon; Fieldfare; Jackdaw; Jay; Ringed Plover; Wheatear; Skylark; Kestrel; Lesser Scaup; Sparrowhawk; Buzzard; Goldfinch; Linnet; Twite.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

North Norfolk 29th Sept to 3rd Oct 2009

Chaffinch - Sculthorpe Moor

Snow Bunting - Cley

Snow Bunting - Cley

Snow Bunting - Cley

Snipe - Cley

Grey Lag Geese - Walsey Hills

Pink Footed Geese - Holkham

Egyptian Geese - Redwell Marsh

Black Tailed Godwit - Redwell Marsh

Black Headed Gull - Titchwell

Herring Gull - Titchwell

Snow Bunting - Cley

Disaster Shot 1 - Firecrest - Holkham

Disaster Shot 2 - Firecrest - Holkham

Disaster Shot 3 - Firecrest - Holkham

A short break in North Norfolk, should be good for some migrants, I thought as I towed the caravan to Little Snoring (Crossways) campsite. How wrong could I be! It was very, very quiet! I am sure it was an omen not seeing any Red Kites as I drove towards Peterborough! My luck culminated in the Firecrest disaster shots above....................suicidal is an understatement!!!

More pics on my website - see link opposite.

Tuesday 29th September

Once I had set the caravan up, it was up to Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve near Fakenham. I had forgotten that Tuesday was work party day and some disturbance was evident - very few birds! The new Scrape hide has  opened since my last visit but only yielded a distant Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier and the reeds held a Reed Warbler. A number of Marsh Tit's frequented the feeding station with commoner tits and finches. I made the decision to head to Flitcham Abbey Bird Hide, always a good bet for Little Owl and a good hour or two can be spent here. The area was very dry and the ponds yielded many Moorhen but little else! Two stoats were taking advantage of the dry ponds. The resident Little Owl's were not visible in the tree roots but could be heard calling. Best of the rest were four Common Buzzard devouring a hare on the adjoining fields.

Not as good a start as I had hoped - would it get better?

Wednesday 30th September

At day break, I headed for Cley Marshes. Being a traditionalist, I always park at the Visitor Centre, then walk the East Bank to the North Scrape and Arnolds Marsh. A large number of Bearded Tit's could be heard "pinging" and fleeting glimpses but no photo opportunities! Arnolds Marsh held Black and Bar Tailed Godwits, Greenshank, two Curlew Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank together with most of the expected species. A walk on the sea wall above Arnolds Marsh provided an opportunity to photograph some of the twenty plus Snow Bunting. The return route produced two Stonechat's but again only pinging from the Bearded Tit's. Four Hobby's hunted over Walsey Hills, the NOA reserve itself yielding a Coal Tit! The other hides at Cley provided numbers of commoner waders with only one Avocet of note and several Golden Plover's. A snack was had at the Cley NWT Visitor Centre followed by a trip to Salthouse Beach. Again this area was very dry with several Wheatear noted. I decided that sea watching might be more productive and was not, on this occasion, disappointed. Three Great Skua's were soon located, a lone Guillemot was on the water, a flyby Red Throated Diver several Common Scoter and three Arctic Terns made the visit worthwhile.

Thursday 1st October

A trip up the coast road to Holme Dunes but stopping off at NOA Redwell Marsh to observe several Snipe, Egyptian Geese, Black Tailed Godwit's and many skeins of Pink Footed Geese. Met Jed & Sophie (NOA wardens) and joined them for some seawatching later. A drive along the rough approach road to the NWT and NOA reserves yielded very little, even less was in the dunes and paddocks, and the wader scrapes were dry with very few waders! Sea watching here was good. The beach had large numbers of Sanderling, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Black and Bar Tailed Godwit's, Turnstone, Knot, Grey Plover and Ringed Plover. The sea allowed good views of Great and Lesser Black Backed Gull's, Great Skua, Arctic Tern, Manx Shearwater, Pomarine Skua, Kittiwake, and a few skeins of Brent Geese. The area close to the observatory held a single Cettis Warbler.

It was still quite early, and as little else was to be seen at Holme, I decided to visit the Zoo (Titchwell!). Obviously the sea wall work is reducing bird numbers, with the water levels drained to allow machinery access. A female Red Crested Pochard was present together with a very elusive Jack Snipe, viewing of which was further hampered by the suns glare. Bearded Tit were again elusive. Waders were as expected. A number of Pintail were confined to the reduced water areas.

A quick visit to Choseley Barns produced Golden Plover and Grey Partridge but little else.

Friday 2nd October

Today, I headed for Holkham Pines, arriving at 0700 in the hope of avoiding the car park attendant. No! he is getting earlier and relieved me of £3.50! Large numbers of Pink Footed Geese with some Brent and Grey Lag were an awesome sight (and sound!). The walk to the George Washington Hide was uneventful. However, it was evident that at the hide, Tit flocks were abundant, one of which contained two Firecrest. I was taken by surprise, my camera was not ready and the results are evident above! Although they frequented the area for a further hour, a number of birders had arrived and it was not possible to get any better views. I also dipped on the Yellow Browed Warbler seen by the birders lower down the boardwalk! Two flyover Crossbill were the only other birds of note.

The rest of the day was spent at Stiffkey Marshes and Fen. I decided this was an area that was underwatched and may provide me with a "mega" and a fitting end to my break. I parked at the the Greenway and walked to Warham Greens. Just how many Little Egret or Redshank can you look at before going mad?! There was nothing else! Back to the car park and a snack before walking to Stiffkey Fen. Yet more of the same. I was sure that I would be a candidate for the asylum before the day ended. However, after about two miles, I came across a real gem in the form of Stiffkey Fen. This large lake was full of Teal, Lapwing, Black Tailed Godwit's, Ruff, Greenshank, Shelduck, Wigeon, Snipe and Pintail. Looking over the saltmarshes, Blakeney Point could be seen together with the seal colony. Interestingly, a Black Swan was amongst the Geese and Mute Swans on the creak.

And so ends my short break. A little disappointing! And no Red Kites on my return journey either!

Total Sightings (112):

Red Throated Diver; Gt Cr Grebe; Dabchick; Manx Shearwater; Gannet; Cormorant; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Mute Swan; Canada Goose; Egyptian Goose; Grey Lag Goose; Pink Footed Goose; Brent Goose; Shelduck; Wigeon; Shoveler; Pintail; Teal; Pochard; Red Crested Pochard; Tufted Duck; Common Scoter; Marsh Harrier; Sparrowhawk; Common Buzzard; Hobby; Kestrel; Pheasant; Red Legged Partridge; Grey Partridge; Water Rail; Coot; Moorhen; Avocet; Oystercatcher; Ringed Plover; Sanderling; Dunlin; Curlew Sandpiper; Turnstone; Knot; Redshank; Spotted Redshank; Ruff; Bar Tailed Godwit; Black Tailed Godwit; Golden Plover; Grey Plover; Lapwing; Curlew; Snipe; Jack Snipe; Great Skua; Pomarine Skua; Arctic Skua; BH Gull; Kittiwake; Common Gull; Herring Gull; GBB Gull; LBB Gull; Arctic Tern; Guillemott; Stock Dove; Wood Pigeon; Collared Dove; Tawny Owl; Little Owl; Kingfisher; Green Woodpecker; Gt Sp Woodpecker; Skylark; Swallow; Meadow Pipit; Pied Wagtail; Dunnock; Wren; Robin; Wheatear; Blackbird; Song Thrush; Mistle Thrush; Cettis Warbler; Reed Warbler; Chiffchaff; Goldcrest; Firecrest; Bearded Tit; LT Tit; Marsh Tit; Coal Tit; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Treecreeper; Starling; Jay; Magpie; Jackdaw; Carrion Crow; Rook; House Sparrow; Chaffinch; Greenfinch; Goldfinch; Linnet; Crossbill; Reed Bunting; Snow Bunting; Black Swan.