Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Great morning at Draycote Water.

Went to Draycote Water this morning primarily to get a shot of the RN Grebe as it is now wearing its summer clothing.

It was calm but a little cloudy when I got there and I soon found the RN Grebe.It was way out off the Toft bank but soon as it recognised me on the bank it steadily swam over for it's photoshoot.As it got nearer a couple of fishing boats turned up (don't you love them) and it remained just out of decent pic. range but I still took loads of shots because it looked so good.

Earlier on I'd met Kevin (Hippo) and he was going to Toft bay to see if the Green-winged Teal was still about so as I made my way there I met up with Dave Hutton and Richard Dawkins who were also after it.Poor Dave  was suffering badly with the flies that were about and I'm sure that  his hair gel was driving them into a sexual frenzy. 

The Green-winged Teal was still there.Yipppeeee!!! a life tick.It showed well on occasions but was very mobile and it got in a few punch ups with the other Teals.

On the way back to the centre Kevin spotted a great looking male Wheatear ( first of the year for me) on the grass bank.A bit mobile for decent pics but I got a few.

On the drive home a Common Buzzard flew close alongside of the car for 100 metres.A wonderful site but very distracting when you are driving.

Click on the pics for a bigger version.   

Monday, 30 March 2009

Visits to Marsh Lane and Brandon Marsh.

On Sunday morning I popped down to Marsh Lane.It was nice to find that the wind had dropped and the sun was shining allthough it was still a bit chilly.Best birds seen included a lone Little Ringed Plover,3 Ringed Plovers,a lone Chiffchaff,several Redshanks some of which were being very romantic,a couple of Oystercatchers,4 Sandmartins,a pair of Shellducks and 20+ Common Snipe.

On Monday morning I went across to Brandon Marsh to find it a bit dull but not too cold.Decided to have another go at getting  my first shot of the year of a Cettis Warbler so I headed to Cettis Corner where I was soon joined by Bob Duckhouse.I hope he did better than me because allthough I had several views the darned things were in very shy mode and kept well hidden leaving me with loads of shots of twigs.Did have a bit better luck with a Chiffchaff but they are masters at getting at least one twig between them and your lens.Saw a Little Ringed Plover from the Wright hide but the islands are too far away at Brandon to get a decent pic unless you have a lens as big as a small cannon.There were a few Swallows flying round my first of the year>

A few pics attached.Click on them for a bigger version.   

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A few local birding trips.

I haven't been out birding much in the last few days as the weather hasn't been too good.I do not like going birding when it's windy as I seem to see very little but I managed a few trips and got a few pics but nothing of note.

Last friday I went to Draycote Water but it was chilly and pretty windy.Did see the RN Grebe with it's changing plumage but it was in a bad mood and stayed too far off for a decent shot. A Rock Pipit also was far too elusive for me to get a shot so I soon gave up and went to Marsh Lane where it was warmer and a little calmer.

Marsh Lane is improving and there were numerous Common Snipe,2 Ringed Plovers,6 Redshanks,4 Sand Martins,4 Tree Sparrows,4 Common Buzzards,2 Kestrels,2 Lesser Redpolls and a lone Water Rail.Didn't see any Jack Snipe this time.

Went to Brandon Marsh on Monday mainly to get a first pic. of the year of a Cettis Warbler.Saw three but was unable to get a shot far too fast for me.Did see some Redshanks,several Common Snipe,a Kingfisher,2 Lesser Redpolls and a lone Siskin.Spent an hour in the woods looking for the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but failed however did see a few Nuthatches and some Treecreepers.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Off to the Chilterns for the Red Kites.

Having failed badly last week trying to get some shots of the Goshawks at the Forest of Dean I went down to a place I'd not been to before Watlington Hill which is only a few miles from J6 on the M40 where I was told Red Kites can be seen.

Got there at 10.30AM ,parked up and walked through the woods on to the hilltop common.What a fabulous spot mind you the fine weather helped.It's a nice place to visit even if there were no Red Kites with fabulous views all round.

What about the Red Kites : The sky was full of them I counted 20+ at any one time some of them high in the sky.Allthough I walked all along the common the best plan is to find a good spot and wait for them to ghost by you sometimes they come down to ground level and pass pretty close .What I liked there is no food left out there so the birds are seen "in the wild" as it were.  

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Trip round a few local sites.

Inspired by yesterday's fine weather I left the thermals at home and headed off for a visit to some local sites .This of course was a big mistake as it turned out to a dull and cold day when I arrived at the first site  the mangrove swamp Whitacre Heath.

Headed to the feeder hide to find it empty.The usual suspects were showing well including several Siskins,a few Lesser Redpolls and a lone Willow Tit.A bit dull for decent pics but I managed a few.

I then went to the balancing lake at Coton to see if I could spot one of the Scaups.Fat chance as there were hundreds of Ducks showing most of them several miles away.I soon gave up.

Off then to Marsh Lane which was pretty good with 7 Redshanks,6 Oysrercatchers,3 Ringed Plovers,1 little Ringed Plover,2 Chiffchaffs,3 Common Buzzards ,20+ Common Snipe and 2 Jack Sipes showing.

The Jack Snipes have been showing well from the Oak hide with upto 5 been seen at once but not by me.The one I saw today was a miserable sod who kept moving around and bobbing up and down for 2 hours but always hidden by reeds.What a bummer!!! Look how poor my best shot was.  

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Visit to the Forest of Dean for the Goshawks (Friday 13th.March 2009.).

Having heard that the weather forecast for the Forest of Dean area would be "Dry with high cloud and light winds" I thought I'd go there to try and see the Goshawks at the New Fancy viewpoint.

I'd never been before so I was pleased to get to the right area in not much over an hour.That was the good news the bad news was that my friend the weatherman had cocked things up again and the clouds were so low I was actually in them and there was a steady drizzle falling.Not ideal weather for birding and certainly not good for Goshawks.

Went first to the arboretum car park near Speech house.Very good place for woodland birds but didn't see the Hawfinch seen the day before.Hopeless for any pics weather far too gloomy.Then went to the area called Boys Grave (strange name!) because a Great Grey Shrike had been reported there recently but didn't see any other birders and didn't see the Shrike but again very good for woodland birds.I did stalk an Owl for 15 minutes but when I finally got close enough for a pic. it turned out to be a load of dead leaves on a branch.What a burk!!!!!

The drizzle was still falling when I got to the New Fancy watchpoint so I parked near the feeding station and joined some other birders waiting for a Hawfinch to turn up.It didn't but a Nuthatch entertained us and better still some Bramblings also paid a visit( the only ones I've seen this winter).

After lunch the drizzle had stopped so I climbed up to the viewpoint (my god what a climb for an old goat like me).Super view over the forest and well worth a visit.Thanks to some other birders with powerfuf scopes I did managed to see some Goshawks (life tick)but they were a long way off.I stayed there for over an hour and joined in the spotting but everytime I called one out it always turned out to be Buzzard which were there in large numbers.Also a few Ravens could be seen.

No pics of the Goshawks so failure there but did get one or two pics of the commoner birds seen.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Waxwings at Tile Hill.

I never go out birding if there is a strong wind blowing as it tends to be a waste of time.However this morning when some Waxwings had been seen at Tile Hill station which is not far from me I shot over there strong wind or not.

I did not know where to go when I got there and I could see no birders so it was sheer luck that I stumbled upon them very near the entrance to the platforms in an apple tree.I reckon there was at least 12 and they were so busy feeding you could get very close to them.In fact I got too close and ruined quite a lot of the shots I took.What a burk!!!!!

Great looking birds and nice to see them in the sun.

They were still there at 10.00AM and the apples looked like they would last for some time yet.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Another Coleshill trip.

The weatherman said it would be sunny in the morning then rain/sleet in the afternoon.If I was going out today it had better be in the morning so I went to Coleshill to see if the Black Redstart was still about.

Got there to find the place deserted but I need not have worried it turned up after 10 minutes although a little distant.It remained far off until I was joined by two birders,a photographer and a chap with a video camera when it must have thought it had a decent audience now because it flew over for a photoshoot.What a bloody poser!!!!!! Thank goodness.

A visit afterwards to Hams Hall was dissapointing because not only did I dip for the first time on the Firecrest but I did not see a Goldcrest or a Chiffchaff.

On the way home I checked out the river and railway bridges at Lea Marston but failed to see any Curlews.

I then raced home to avoid the forecast rain/sleet which of course didn't turn up. 

Monday, 2 March 2009

Off to Brandon Marsh to take on the Bittern.

As rain was forecast tomorrow I decided to have another go at the Bittern at Brandon Marsh  so I raced over there this morning.Joined two friends in the East Marsh hide at 10.30AM and was told that it had not been seen yet that morning.

After staring down the left hand channel for 2 hours I was thinking of leaving the hide as I was sure that all the staring was sending me insane the darned thing rose up from the reeds to the right of the hide when we had been looking in the reeds to the left of the hide and flew across the front of the hide into the reeds at the left of the hide.Lots of cursing ensued as no one got a shot off.

Another hour passed and just as I was about to give up it came out of the reeds and plodded down the left hand channel before entering the reeds again.We only got a rear view but I'm not complaining as got my first non flight shots of a Bittern.

Click on pics for a larger version.