Saturday, 28 February 2009

Another Draycote Water Visit.

As it was warm and sunny in Knowle on Friday morning I decided to go across to Draycote Water to see if I could get a decent shot of  another Smew that had turned up.Knowing by bitter experience that there is a different climate at Draycote I took some warm clothing this time.

As I walked the Farborough Bank I was met with a cold wind and dull conditions.Typical.I soon found the RN Grebe just past the spit showing close in but you can take so many shots of the same bird so I moved on.Eventualy found the Smew but the miserable so and so stayed several miles away and even when it flew to a new location it stayed well away from my camera.

A Common Buzzard put a bit of a flying show by the Toft carpark but other than that I saw very little.I got even more depressed when on the way back to the centre I missed one of the GN Divers that had just been "so close in that it was almost on the rocks".What a bummer!!!

I cheered up a little when I found a Rock Pippet no far from the centre.It was very lively but I did get some shots.First of the year.

Click on pics for a larger version.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Visit to Cannock Chase for the Hawfinch.

Went to the Freda's Grave feeding station on Cannock Chase on Tuesday morning to try and get a pic. of the Hawfinch.Never been there before so I was pleased to find the place very quickly and also get a good parking spot for taking shots.This was down to good directions from Pete Walkden and Dave Hutton.

Unfortuneately that's where the good news ended because I didn't get a glimpse of the Hawfinch despite a 4 hour stint in the car.I was forced to leave just after 2.00PM as there was a good chance deep vein thrombosis was setting in.

It wasn't all bad news because it is a good spot to get shots of Yellowhammers,CoalTits,Willow Tits,Nuthatches etc.  

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Another trip to Hams Hall on Saturday 21st. February 2009.

As you can see from all the posts I've made in the last few days the weather has improved and this fairweather birder has been keen to get out and about.It was fine this morning so I thought I'd have  another go at the Hams Hall Firecrest.

Got there at 10.00AM and joined six other birders searching for our little friend.It was nice to see some old friends there including the legendry photographer Paul Goode.

We had to wait for nearly an hour for it to turn up and it then lead us a merry dance for the next couple of hours.It seemed to be very skilled in hiding behind twigs,going up high in the trees,having the sun behind it all the time and when you got focussed on it immediately shot off somewhere leaving you with lots of shots of twigs.Great fun though.

Some so so pics attached.Click on them to enlarge. 

Trip to Draycote Water on Friday 20th. February 2009

The sun was shining in Knowle and it was warm so I decided to shoot over to Draycote Water.Big mistake as when I got there it was gloomy,damp and very cold and to make matters worse I wasn't kitted out in winter clothing.Will I never learn Draycote has a different climate to elsewhere.

Saw a couple of the Great Northern Dvers but they were a long way off.The Red-necked Grebe was more accomodating and came a bit closer into the shore.Missed out on the Smew which I didn't see at all.

Some pics attached taken on the walk round.Click on the for a bigger version. 

Hams Hall visit on Thursday 19th.February 2009

Flushed with success at getting some shots of the Black Redstart at Coleshill I made the short trip to the Hams Hall site.I'd never been there before but found it easily having got some good instuctions.

For those who have not been there it's a small area of trees and shrubs around a small bridge that spans a warm water stream from a nearby sewage works.The first thing I noticed was the sheer number of birds flying around which besides the more common birds included Grey Wagtails,Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests.

I was after the Goldcrests as I can never get a decent shot of one and it was while I was tracking what I thought was one  when it turned out to be the Firecrest that had been seen there.What a bit of luck.I managed to rattle off a few pics.

Good place I must go again.

Click on the pics for a bigger version.

Trip to Coleshill on Thursday 19th.February 2009.

Desparate  after dipping out on Wednesday I raced over to see the Black Redstart on the wasteland site in Coleshill  on Thursday morning.

Got there at 9.00AM and joined a couple of other birders who had been looking for it for an hour without any luck.After a quick chat I lifted up my bins and immediately spotted it as it fluttered down onto a pile of rubble.YIPPEEE !!!!!!! A life tick.

Surprisingly these other two birders then departed and I had the bird to myself for the next hour.As others who have seen it have said it is a very accomodating bird and as I crouched behind a timber pallet it came within 4 metres.Even when I had to stand up to relieve the screaming pain in my legs it did not fly off.If only all birds were like this.

Click on the pics for a larger version.  

Sunday, 15 February 2009

A drive down some local lanes.

Decided to have an early morning drive down some of the local lanes to see what was about now the weather was a bit warmer.Answer very little it cannot have warmed up enough.

I did spot this Common Buzzard on a roadside tree but as usual when I crept up nearer to get a decent shot it flew off to the next county.What a bummer.

Click on the shots to enlarge.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Draycote Water trip Friday 13th. February.

The sun was out at last so this fair weather birder deciced to shoot over to Draycote Water for the first time in ages.

Decided to head down the Farborough Bank and immediately noticed thay only one other person was on the bank.I soon found out why I was alone because there was a bitterly cold wind blowing straight down the bank into my face and I'm certain there were razor blades in the wind.It only took a few minutes for my thermals to be penetrated.

Not an awful lot to shoot but I did spot a Little Grebe that had caught a fish that seemed much to large for it to eat but it managed it.I found the Red-necked Grebe but the damned thing remained 30 metres off the bank and refused to come any closer for a decent shot which was a shame as it seems it's plumage is beginning to change.

Missed getting a shot of a Kestrel that flew right over my head but did get a shot of a Cormorant that had just had a mohican hair cut.

Click on the pics to get a larger version.Hope the pics are OK as I'm editing them on a laptop and if you move your head you can change the brightness of the shot on the screen.What a bummer.If they are crap when viewed on a monitor let me know please.   

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A visit to Brandon Marsh on Wednesday 11th. February 2009.

As I am a self confessed fair weather birder I hadn't been out birding  to a local reserve for several days due to the awful weather so deciding to chance it I went to Brandon Marsh this morning hoping it wouldn't be too flooded.

The drive to Brandon from Knowle is usually pretty easy but not this morning because I kept on meeting road closed signs and had to make several diversions.Even the A46 was snarled up.

The path to the Baldwin hide etc. was badly flooded so no searching for the Bittern.The paths to the West Marsh hide and to the Wright hide were very muddy but passable but you are lucky to see anything from these hides (at least I do not have much luck).

As you would expect in these conditions I didn't see much and hardly took any shots.Best spots were 20+ Siskins,2 Lesser Redpolls,7 Common Snipe,1 Common Buzzard and 2 Shellducks.Best of all was briefly spotting a Woodcock flying very fast through the woods (ID by another birder as it was a very brief view for me).

It started to rain at lunchtime so I changed into wimp mode and went home.  

Thursday, 5 February 2009

A drive round the local lanes on 4th. February 2009.

On Wednesday afternoon,although there had been a snowfall in the morning,the sun was shining so I bravely decided to have a drive round the local country lanes to see if I could get some shots of any birds that were about.

Headed Lapworth way and soon came across some Redwings and Song Thrushes on a lawned bank which came pretty close to me as I was in the car.Soon after I located some Jays but I'm blowed if the darned things would let me get close.

Found the very pale Common Buzzard in the same tree I'd seen it before and although it was distant did get some shots off.

A lay bye on the lane that runs along the canal near Chadwick End proved a good place to stop as there were good views of Fieldfares and Song Thrushes that were feeding near a berry tree.Also a very stange Duck made an appearance on the canal.A new species?A King Mallard?

CLICK on the pics to see a larger shot.