Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Pastures New!

The gloom continues and as I headed off with the intention of visiting Ladywalk (WMBC) Reserve, Coleshill, I "somehow" ended up in the south Derbyshire village of Willington, where a long staying Black Throated Diver has taken up residence. Why did I end up here in the mist and gloom? Well it is three years since I have seen one (Draycote) and I thought it would be an easy tick. How wrong could I be? I parked up at the start of the Willington Gravel Pits track and walked back over the river to find the footpath that was to take me about a mile over soggy fields, over several rickety stiles, to a small copse where distant, often obscured views could be had of Pylon Pool, the Divers favourite haunt. Of course, there was no sign of a diver in the gloom. I walked along the river bank, walked and slithered along the (very) muddy tracks, up hill, peered through foliage, was sniffed at by a bemused heard of cows, and just about gave up the will to live! Still, as a true hero, I persevered. Then I noticed a large bird on the western part of the pool. Could it be? YES! an immature Black Throated Diver! The bird was distant from the only vantage point, but was observed preening and bathing for a good fifteen minutes before it slowly disappeared due to the high banks. SUCCESS! but too distant for pics. It was back to the car, risking life & serious injury on the rickety stiles, and nearly stepping on this friendly fellow. I could have kissed it but it might have been a prince!

I had not visited Willington Gravel Pits before, so I decided to walk down onto the DWT reserve. The hedgerows were alive with Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Great, Blue and Long Tailed Tits, Goldcrests, Great Spooted and Green Woodpeckers. Two Curlews flew over calling and the viewing platforms enabled good views of the expected wildfowl. A solitary Golden Plover flew over calling but my attention was then drawn to a solitary Pipit on an island. I expected it to be a Meadow Pipit but no, it was a Water Pipit! Fantastic! Despite the dull and gloom, the day was good with several year ticks. A list of sightings can be found at the end of this post.

Leaving Willington, I headed out towards Hilton where sixteen Bewicks Swans were feeding in the fields with the ever present Mute Swans. These provided the only (poor) photographic opportunities for today.

Todays Sightings:

Black Throated Diver; Curlew; Golden Plover; Water Pipit (all year ticks); Magpie; Wood Pigeon; Goosander; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Buzzard; Chaffinch; Mute Swan; Dunnock; Robin; Blackbird; Rook; Jackdaw; Coot; Moorhen; Tufted Duck; Cormorant; Pheasant; Long Tailed Tit; Goldfinch; Starling; Canada Goose; Grey Lag Goose; Bullfinch; Oystercatcher; Greenfinch; Grey Heron; Goldcrest; Green Woodpecker; Jay; Mallard; Reed Bunting; Gadwall; Lapwing; Great Crested Grebe; Shelduck; Common Gull; Skylark; Pochard; LBB Gull; Wigeon; Shoveler; Wren; Redwing;

Nearby - Bewicks Swan (16).

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Waxwings - Coventry

Yet another dark, dismal, dreary, dull and drizzley day and what better spot to enjoy it, than a street corner by a bus stop in Coventry! To be precise, the junction of Clifford Bridge Road and Belgrave Road by the traffic lights. Why? Well a large number of Waxwings have chosen this spot to strip berries and at least 70 were there from 0830 this morning. Unfortunately, the light was again poor bloody awful needing ISO 1600 to take pics achieving a speed of 80! This is not to the liking of myself or my camera so 200 images were binned! The Waxwings were very flighty and retreated to the surrounding tall trees before going completely AWOL. Lurking on street corners in Coventry is not my forte so I headed back home.

On my way home, I called in on my parents in Bilton where my first Blackcap (male) of the year was seen.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Draycote Water - Scaup (s)

Female Scaup

Drake Scaup

Typical of my days off, the day was cold, grey, dull, misty and not at all conducive for a visit to Draycote Water. However, news was filtering through that a drake Scaup had joined the long staying female off Hensborough Bank. I have not seen a drake for several years, so the opportunity to visit was too much to miss. Arriving early afternoon, I was soon with a very cold looking Bob H on Hensborough Bank and the male & female Scaup were in my sight. The light, was of course, apalling! While watching the Scaup, I could not resist a few images of an obliging Wren on the rocks below the bank.

Drake Scaup

Drake Scaup

Drake Scaup with watchful female Scaup

Drake Scaup with Tufted Duck

Drake Scaup



Thursday, 17 February 2011

Derbyshire Delights!

Great Northern Diver - Carsington Water

A day out in Derbyshire, meeting up with birdforum buddy DaveN and visiting Cromford and Carsington Water. The day was, as is usual for me, cool, dull, misty but dry and even a hint of sun late morning.

The day started at Cromford and a hunt for Dipper and Hawfinch. Initially, both were elusive, but two Dippers were eventually located near the road bridge over the River Derwent. The light was very poor (almost dark!) but listening to them call and hearing their song was a fantastic first for me. Hawfinch (lifer) were even more elusive, but our patience eventually paid off with at least six birds being located in the tops of the trees. They gave us a right run around, and were determined not to come close! Other birds of note were Mistle Thrush (2), Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk, Dabchick and at least 76 Pied Wagtails on the meadows.

Dipper - Cromford

Dipper - Cromford

The Dipper pair

On to Carsington Water with Great Northern Diver at the top of my "wanted" list, particularly as they have not shown at Draycote Water this Autum/ Winter. Two of the reported three birds were located with one showing well off the dam, the other being more distant. Other year ticks were male and female Pintail and two Oystercatchers.

Great Northern Divers - Carsington Water

Thanks, Dave for a great day and some super birds - perhaps see you in the spring to try again for Ring Ousel.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Francoise the "Scaup" Magnet! Draycote this Morning!

Well, what a morning! How best to sum up Draycote this morning? Dark - Dull - Dreary- Dismal - Drizzle - Depressing - the list could go on! I persevered (what a hero!) and walked the perimeter, picking up on the drake Smew off Farborough Bank though distant. It was so quiet with only the expected species in very reduced numbers. A Buzzard sat in the field below Farborough Bank and a Sparrowhawk flew through Toft shallows. A Stoat was a welcome sight near Biggin Bay, as were two Lesser Redpoll in the hedgerow. Arriving at the outlet, the female Scaup was easily picked out but again very distant, that is, until a vision in turquoise arrived ( Francoise F)! Miraculously, the Scaup headed towards us and gave reasonably close views. Francoise is now known as the Scaup magnet! A full list of todays sightings is at the end of this post.

(More images on my website - see link opposite)

Todays Sightings:

Greenfinch; Song Thrush; Robin; Blackbird; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; Jackdaw; Rook; Blue Tit; Chaffinch; Mallard; Pied Wagtail; Lapwing; Coot; Black Headed Gull; Great Crested Grebe; Cormorant; LBB Gull; Tufted Duck; Herring Gull; Goosander; Smew; Goldeneye; Pheasant; Buzzard; GBB Gull; Wigeon; Dunnock; Magpie; Gadwall; Common Gull; Goldfinch; Teal; Moorhen; Sparrowhawk; Great Tit; Long Tailed Tit; Green Woodpecker; Kestrel; Bullfinch; Lesser Redpoll;Dabchick; Skylark; Pochard; Scaup; Stock Dove; Redwing.


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Bittern - Brandon Marsh (At Last!)

Following a night shift from hell (again!) and a few hours sleep, I needed to get out and enjoy the uncharacteristic sunshine. I still needed to touch base with the Brandon Marsh Bittern so I headed in that direction. Arriving in the carpark, I was amazed at how full it was, finding the last space and I was off. Arriving at East Marsh Hide, it was full, so I stood at the back - a good move, as within thirty seconds, the Bittern appeared and with my elevated position, I snapped away. Once people had seen the Bittern, they started to drift away, allowing me a seat but the hide remained full to capacity. The company was good and a gentle banter passed the time until the next Bittern appearance.

(A large number of Bittern images can be seen on my website - see link opposite)

Friday, 4 February 2011

Brandon Marsh & Bretford

Now boys, don't fight - you can both have me..........!

Brandon was rather quiet this morning with nothing exceptional appearing, but then I only visited East Marsh Hide. Arriving before first light, I walked past sheep field and newlands in the hope of Owls, but again was disappointed. As I arrived at East Marsh Pool a Barnacle Goose was on the island, but by the time I arrived at the hide it had disappeared. My main objective was a Bittern, that most people have had very good views of, and excellent images have appeared on various websites. Well, I sat and waited but nothing until four hours into my vigil, when at last, a Bittern flew up from the right reed bed and dropped in to a pool towards Carlton pool. At least it was now on my 2011 list, despite it being a rear view with legs dangling. While waiting, I was entertained by the largest number of Gadwall I have seen at Brandon, the antics of Shoveler and three Shelduck. Other ducks included Tufted, Teal, male & female Pochard, Wigeon and a lone female Goldeneye. Today, was my lowest number of species seen at Brandon for a long time, no doubt due to not visiting all areas. (List at end of post). 

On my way home, I stopped to view the single Bewicks Swan, amongst the many Mute Swans between Bretford and Church Lawford.





Bewicks Swan

Todays Sightings:

Robin; Wood Pigeon; Blackbird; Dunnock; Great Tit; Carrion Crow; Bullfinch; Magpie; Black Headed Gull; LBB Gull; Mute Swan; Tufted Duck; Mallard; Canada Goose; Grey Lag Goose; Barnacle Goose; Lapwing; Song Thrush; Cormorant; Teal; Shelduck; Grey Heron; Pochard; Shoveler; Coot; Wigeon; Gadwall; Common Gull; Herring Gull; Goldeneye; Bittern; Starling; Blue Tit.

Bewicks Swan.