Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Friday, 28 January 2011

Study of a Robin - Brandon Marsh

Who can resist a Robin?

The Robin
by Thomas Hardy

When up aloft
I fly and fly,
I see in pools
The shining sky,
And a happy bird
Am I, am I!

When I descend
Toward the brink
I stand and look
And stop and drink
And bathe my wings,
And chink, and prink.

When winter frost
Makes earth as steel,
I search and search
But find no meal,
And most unhappy
Then I feel.

But when it lasts,
And snows still fall,
I get to feel
No grief at all
For I turn to a cold, stiff
Feathery ball!

(A large selection of Robin Images can be seen on my website - see link opposite)

Brandon Marsh

I am going through a "dipping" patch at the moment! I missed out on seeing the White Fronted Goose at Seeswood Pool yesterday, so decided to visit Brandon Marsh this morning, where I failed to see any sign of Bittern or Owls, my main objective!

I arrived at Brandon before it got light and searched sheep field and newlands before heading to east marsh hide. I sat and froze here for several hours with no sign of Bittern, a pattern to be repeated at west marsh! The only birds of note were four Shelduck and a single Pink Footed Goose tagging along with the numerous Grey Lags. Managed year ticks with Water Rail and Cettis Warbler. A list of sightings appear at the end of this post.


Pink Footed Goose with Grey Lag Escort

Todays Sightings:

Robin; Blackbird; Wood Pigeon; Redwing; Grey Lag goose; Carrion Crow; Black Headed Gull; LBB Gull; Fieldfare; Canada Goose; Water Rail; Shoveler; Mute Swan; Coot; Tufted Duck; Cormorant; Mallard; Grey Heron; Great Tit; Teal; Pochard; Magpie; Common Gull; Shelduck; Green Woodpecker; Lapwing; Gadwall; Pheasant; Moorhen; Pink Footed Goose; Wren; Cettis Warbler; Jay; Wigeon; Coal Tit; Chaffinch; Blue Tit; Stock Dove; Reed Bunting; Bullfinch; Dunnock; Siskin.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Draycote Water - Quick afternoon visit

Having been at work last night and needing a few hours sleep, when I woke, I decided to pay a quick visit to Draycote Water this afternoon, walking to the valve tower and back. My main aim was to locate the female Scaup which has been reported off the inlet for several days. Overall, the water was very quiet with only the expected birds in quite low numbers. I met Bob H near the inlet and we were soon watching the (distant) Scaup. It led us a merry dance, staying distant and diving regularly and seemed determined to "outwit" Bob who was struggling to capture an image. The field behind the inlet held a small finch flock, no doubt due to a watchful Sparrowhawk nearby. The flock was mainly Chaffinch, but did contain at least 10 Brambling. Bob reported the drake Smew being off Farborough Bank but I could not locate it in the scope, so missed this super bird as I had no time to walk to Toft.

Female Scaup

Female Scaup with female Tufted Duck

Drake Goldeneye displaying

Todays Sightings:

Blackbird; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; Blue Tit; Coot; Great Crested Grebe; Mallard; Tufted Duck; LBB Gull; Black Headed Gull; Cormorant; Goldeneye; Dabchick; Teal; Goosander; Common Gull; Pied Wagtail; Moorhen; Scaup; Magpie; Pochard; Pheasant; Chaffinch; Brambling; Sparrowhawk; GBB Gull;Rook; Jackdaw; Fieldfare; Long Tailed Tit; Bullfinch.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Coombe Abbey

Oi! Big fella - thats my food!

Visiting Coombe Abbey in early January is something of a tradition for me as three years ago, it was my first attempt at photography, and the sun was shining! Today was not good, with very poor light, very high ISO and very slow speed! As a result, most of my images were binned as out of focus and blurred.

The one good thing about bird watching in the early months of a new year is that even the common birds are sought out to add to the year list. Today, it was woodland birds that got added.

Best bird of the day was a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, near to the bird hide in the heronry area. The bird hide three years ago had one very large bird table in front of it. Thankfully, this has now gone and the rangers put food in the bark of trees and drilled holes making the scene much more natural. It was just a pity about the light so another visit on a better day is called for.

Muntjac Deer

Marsh Tit

Marsh Tit

Marsh Tit

Great Tit

Long Tailed Tit

Coal Tit

Blue Tit




(More images on my website - see link opposite)

Todays Sightings:

Jackdaw; Carrion Crow; Wood Pigeon; Blackbird; Rook; Magpie; Mallard; Coot; Black Headed Gull; Moorhen; Mute Swan; Grey Lag Goose; Tufted Duck; Blue Tit; Shoveler; Jay; Grey Heron; Wigeon; Marsh Tit; Canada Goose; Dunnock; Wren; Nuthatch; Great Tit; Coal Tit; Pochard; Cormorant; Stock Dove; Lesser Spotted Woodpecker; Long Tailed Tit; Chaffinch; LBB Gull; Pheasant; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Robin; Treecreeper; Goldcrest.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Draycote Water early afternoon


Today is my Birthday and what a change from last year. Last year was spent freezing cold in a blizzard attempting to see the Great Grey Shrike near Grandborough. This year it was a walk at Draycote in the milder but very dull and blustery conditions. What is common to both years is the lack of any decent photographs!

The drake Smew was favouring Toft Bay, so was only viewed through the scope as I had chosen to walk to the Valve Tower and back. The Inlet held the Pink Footed Goose along with the Greylags and the fields behind held large finch flocks, containing at least 12 Bramblings. The "settling" pool below Draycote Bank contained a Little Egret whose presence antaganised a Grey Heron. The nearby stream had a Kingfisher for a short time. Two female Shoveler were off Hensborough Bank and the only raptors were two Buzzard and a Kestrel.

Todays Sightings:

Chaffinch; Blackbird; Carrion Crow; Wood Pigeon; Cormorant; Jackdaw; Mallard; Tufted Duck; Black Headed Gull; Coot; Great Crested Grebe; LBB Gull; Robin; Pied Wagtail; Bullfinch; Goldeneye; Pochard; Fieldfare; Redwing; Magpie; Rook; Goosander; Dabchick; Common Gull; Teal; Pink Footed Goose; Lapwing; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Moorhen; Kingfisher; Linnet; Brambling; Pheasant; Blue Tit; Buzzard; Shoveler; Kestrel; Goldfinch; Starling; Wigeon; Smew.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

A few more Rugby Waxwings

The dull, dreary, dismal, dark and inclement weather is tolerated better in the fact that I am in a run of shifts so birding is out of the question. However, to cheer myself up, I've had another look through my Waxwing collection and offer a few more images of the Rugby birds.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Independence Day????

The morning dawned bright and sunny, so, with the desire to increase my 2011 year ticks, I headed off to Harrington Airfield in the hope of Brambling, other finches and possibly Hen Harrier. Last time I went, it was rather foggy! I arrived at the gates in glorious sunshine and scanned the finches taking advantage of the seeded area. I was not to be disappointed, with at least twenty Bramblings, fifteen Yellowhammers, two Tree Sparrows and numerous Reed Buntings. Unfortunately, the flock was very nervous and disappeared as soon as you got within camera range. I continued along the bridlepath, seeing large numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares but little else. Arriving at the Hen Harriers favourite area, the field with the transmitter in, I only saw corvids and Wood Pigeons. A lady walking her dogs informed that she had seen the Harrier earlier, so my first "dip" of the day!

It was at this point that I noticed the sunshine disappearing, being replaced by a mass of gloom and darkness, slowly progressing across the sky - just like the alien invasion in the film "Independence Day"!

Fieldfare - the only image from Harrington!

Things did not improve either, as I headed down to Pitsford Reservoir. The cold wind gale made it difficult to stand on the causeway, and the water was still frozen, with only a small area of open water. This was to give me my second "dip" of the day as there was no sign of the Great White Egret. However, four drake Smew and two redhead Smew made the most of a small area of open water either side of the causeway. This they shared with most of the other wildfowl - Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard,Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and Mallard. A Peregrine sent up a large flock of Wigeon from Scaldwell Arm and a distant Buzzard atracted the attention of the corvids.

Driving rain soon had me back in the car and I decided to head for home as it was definitely not a day for photography!

Drake Smew

Drake Smew

Drake & Redhead Smew

Redhead Smew




Mr & Mrs Gadwall

(More images on my website - see link opposite)

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Pink Footed Goose & Bewicks Swan

Today was not intended to be a birding day, but with texts from Richard & John reporting a Pink Footed Goose near Bretford with the Grey Lag Geese, it would have been rude not to go! Pink Footed Goose was a first for me in Warwickshire, so well pleased! While in the area, a quick trip to the other side of the river to view the Bewicks Swan, in with the Mute Swans.

Pink Footed Goose

Bewicks Swan

(More images on my website - see link opposite)