Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Chasing local Waxwings.

The only birding I've been able to do lately has been chasing Waxwings that have been reported locally.

The reason for this is that the extreme cold we've been enjoying recently necessitates me wearing so many layers to prevent frostbite I am unable to move around freely so I've been cruising around the Dorridge area in the car chasing up Waxwings that have been reported.

Unfortunately I've had no luck with last Sunday being the most annoying day when three times the bird text alert told me Waxwings were showing well in local streets but when I raced straight over there absolutely nothing was about.Makes me wonder how old are these bird text alerts when you get them.

Had another go this morning but the only birds that visited my favourite yellow berried Rowan tree were these chaps :-

Saturday, 27 November 2010

No further luck with the local Waxwing.

Unfortunately the Waxwing I found locally a few days ago has not made another appearance.I was hoping he might bring along a load of mates to eat the berries but he has not.Perhaps the berries were not very tasty.

To make matters worse the berries are disappearing fast.These chaps are the culprits.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

I love it when a plan comes together.

Yes I love it when a plan comes together.Mind you I think this is the first plan I've made that has come together.

The plan was made when I heard a few weeks ago that it might be a Waxwing year and I checked out the local area for any yellow berried Rowan trees that I know Waxwings love.I located a few trees in a fairly nearby cul de sac and have checked them out a few times recently with no luck at all.

This lunchtime still feeling sorry for myself because of the manflu I had to pop out to post a letter.When I'd done this I went on the short drive to the cul de sac in the plan and checked out the trees.They looked devoid of birds but , as I was about to drive off , something caught my eye at the top of one of the trees.Blimey it was a lone Waxwing.Yipppeeee!!!!!

Rattled off a few shots before it flew off.I must keep the location secret because some of the residents were not too pleased to have me in their neighbourhood so if a crowd turned up some not careful where they stand to get a shot there may be trouble.In any case it may not show up again.

Scraping the barrel at Brandon Marsh

I had not been out with the camera for a few days not because of the weather which had not been good but because I've got man flu.What a wimp!!!!! So before the walls closed in on me completely I made the effort on Tuesday morning and limped over to Brandon Marsh.

Although the weather was not too bad it turned out to be a day when I had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get some shots.Mind you that could have been due to me not being 100% and missing loads of shots.

Checked out the car park for Waxwings and found none which was not a surprise as I was 48 hours late.I next headed for the East Marsh hide where I was put onto a Jack Snipe which was so far away I think it was in Leicestershire.Here is the worst shot of a Jack Snipe ever taken.

To prove I can take a decent shot of a JS here is one I took earlier (At Marsh Lane some time ago).

Had lunch by the Carlton hide bench where I saw my first Siskins of the winter when about a dozen landed high up on a nearby tree.Another look in the EM hide showed the JS was still miles away but two fighting Water Rails flashed across the front of the hide but that was all.The Bittern had not been seen all day apparently.

A quick look in the Baldwin hide produced the pair of Goldeneye but not close and a Cormorant but that was all.

I then headed to the sheep field to try and see the Short-eared Owl recently seen there.I have never seen one.Yes I must confess that the only birder in the midlands not to have seen a SEO is me.The secret is out.

So how did I get on?Well I did see a Kestrel but not the SEO so you can imagine my frustration when I later found out that while I was by the sheep field it was performing for everyone on the East Marsh and the Teal pool.Bugger Bugger!!!!!

So no decent shots and I missed the SEO but I'm glad I went out even though I was knackered when I got home.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Another trip to Draycote Water.

Having recently renewed my car park permit at Draycote Water and not wanting to waste this expensive investment I headed over there on Friday morning.Got there at 10.30AM to find the weather warm,sunny and calm.Was I really at Draycote Water?

The trouble is when the weather is this good there never seems to be any birds about and so it proved to be today because when I got to the Hensborough bank I had seen very little.I met up with Francoise there and she had not seen much on her walk from Toft.

At the inlet we met up with Bob Hazell who had had a much better time having seen a lone Curlew, lots of Redwings,Fieldfares and Siskins and a couple of Bramblings on his walk along the north shore.He also put us onto a couple of female Common Scoters but the miserable swines stayed well away from the shore so my pics are only record shots.

Fed up with my 400 lens being outgunned by all these large lenses everyone has these days (keeps bringing back bad memories of being outgunned in the showers after rugby) I have lashed out and bought this chap.Mind you I now need to buy a packhorse.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A poor day's birding and a good day's birding.

First the poor day's birding.

On Monday morning I went across to Brandon Marsh to find the weather sunny,calm and chilly.Headed straight to the Steetly hide to see if the Bittern was showing but after an hours stay I could not see it.The only bird of interest showing was the New Zealand Scaup and that was not very interesting.

An hour and a half 's stay in the Carlton hide produced a few Redwings and a lone Common Snipe and that was all.A quick look in the other hides revealed very little so I gave up and went home.

Now the good day's birding.

On Tuesday morning , having done some early shopping ,I decided to go across to Shustoke again and see if the Red-breasted Merganser was still about and , if so ,to try and get some decent shots this time.

Got there just after 10.00AM to find the place deserted except for one chap who was more interested in telling me about his knee operation than about the Merganser.

Having had to walk round the reservoir twice before finding it on Saturday I had mentally geared myself up for another long walk when , blow me down , I spotted it 50 metres out and I'd only walked a few metres from the car.I switched over to very patient mode and waited by the jetty which turned out to be good move as it stayed in the area for 40 minutes some times coming in pretty close.It then flew off to the NW corner of the reservoir.

Did get some better shots : -

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Hunt for the Red-breasted Merganser.

On Saturday morning I went on the Hunt for the Red-breasted Merganser at Shustoke reservoir which was certainly not so exciting as the film of a few years ago the Hunt for the Red October.In fact it turned out to be a long hard grind.

Got to Shustoke at 9.00AM and found only one birder there scanning the water and he could not find it.Another birder appeared from nowhere and said he saw it much earlier at the north end so I thought I'd better have a walk round there.

After a bracing walk right round I failed to see it although I could well have missed with the bright sun in my eyes when checking it out from the north shore.As I arrived back in the car park I was knackered having walked all round.Allright it's can only be a couple of miles round for normal people but that is at least five Maxmiles.

Things got worse when a friend I met by the car park said it had just been seen close into the east shore so off I set again hoping I wouldn't have to be helicoptered out later.Could I find it on my second walk round? Don't be silly!!!

When I got two thirds round again near the north west corner I happily slumped down on the bench there with Mike and we were soon joined by Alvin and Dave Hutton.I'd given up by this time but Alvin still scanning said "Isn't that it over there?"

It was.Well done Alvin.Managed a few shots in crappy light before it flew off down the water.I was too knackered to chase it any more.Some shots of it swimming which I am pleased with as they are my first shots of the bird.

Here are some shots of it flying off.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Brandon Marsh then Marsh Lane.

As Wednesday started out fine I thought I'd have a quick walk round Brandon Marsh.

I was not filled with confidence as I walked down the main path because lately I'd found Brandon to be very quiet.I decided to look at the West Pool first before the light got too difficult there.It turned out to a good move as two birders in the hide were onto a Bittern which surprisingly was way out the right of the hide deep in the undergrowth.

Don't laugh too loud at the shot I took but it was the first of the Winter and it was nice too see however hidden it was.

I did not see much at all from the other hides.The Carlton hide was particularly grim with only a handful of distant ducks the only birds seen in an hours stay.On this form if you stay in the Carlton hide too long you get suicidal so I quickly raced off.

There were a couple of Goldeneyes from the Baldwin hide was was nice as I think they are fine looking ducks.

On the way home I called in at Marsh Lane hoping the Rough-legged Buzzard seen the day before was still about.I joined a couple of other birders and we searched for an hour or two but only saw a few Common Buzzards.One of the birders was John Oates who found it the day before ( it landed in a tree across from the car park hide) and he showed me some of his shots.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The GG Shrike again.

Saturday morning promised to be sunny, calm and cold so I thought this'll do for me but where to go?

All my local patches including Marsh Lane, Upton Warren, Draycote Water and Brandon Marsh had all been very quiet lately so they were ruled out.This left another go at the GG Shrike hoping for better pics than my last efforts which were disappointing.So off I shot at 8.00AM to Napton.

There were only 3 birders present when I got there and the weather was a bit dull for decent shots but only half an hour later things brightened up considerable the sun came out,more birders had arrived and best of all Dave Hutton located the Shrike about 100 metres along the canal hedge line.For most of the morning it put on a good show on the wires, in the hedgerow and along the roadway but alas it did not land on the posts.

My best shots were better than those I took on Wednesday but nowhere as good as those chaps who got it on the posts last Tuesday.

Funnily enough I seemed to get better shots when the Shrike took to the air hunting for flies.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Another go at the GG Shrike.

I was surprised to see that the weather on Wednesday morning was not too bad so I decided to have another go at the GG Shrike at Napton hoping that this time I would at least go to the right spot.

So did I go to the right spot? Unbelievably I didn't what a clown!!!! This time I rang up Kevin Grocock,who took some cracking shots yesterday, and he soon put me right. ( For anyone who wants to have a go for it : from the crossroads in Napton head towards Southam on the A425 turn left at the "Industrial Estate" sign, park by the gate and walk down the roadway until you come to the overhead wires).

I parked up and was walking along the roadway when I met two birders leaving who said "No sign this morning we think it's f***** off ".Great!!!!!

I joined up with three other birders and began to await the Shrikes arrival.After nearly two hours all we'd seen were a couple of Common Buzzards, two Kestrels and four Ravens and I was getting damn cold in the strong wind.

It was about this time one of the birders cracked and left.What a wimp!!!!! I remained as I was desperate to see the Shrike having messed up yesterday.For once I'd made the right decision as it turned up at long last and spent it's time either on the wires or in the hedges for about an hour before flying off. All at distance I'm afraid not like yesterday when it posed for pictures on the fencing posts.

I didn't get any decent shots because I couldn't get near it and it had become gloomy but I'm not moaning too much it was great to see.Here are some shots note the poor shot of it coughing up a furball.