Saturday, 29 January 2011

A couple of decent Warwickshire year ticks.

After a very good hour with some Waxwings in Meriden on Friday morning I drove down the A45 to Brandon Marsh getting there just before lunchtime.

I didn't stay long in the East Marsh or Carlton hides because a bitterly cold east wind was whistling through the flaps so unsurprisingly I didn't see much but the visit was not without reward as I got a couple of very decent Warwickshire year ticks.

The first was when an Egyptian Goose dropped onto the main pool for about 20 minutes before flying off.Here is a distant shot.

The second was when the Pink-footed Goose which I thought I'd missed retuned to the main pool and was seen pretty well from the Wright hide.I'd seen them in their thousands before in Norfolk but never inland before and never on the water.

More Waxwings.

Very pleased to see the sun was shining on Friday morning so I was just about to leave to go to Brandon Marsh when a text from Nic Barlow sent me scurrying off to Meriden. Why Meriden? Well some Waxwings were showing from the bridge that goes over the main A45 on Maxstoke Lane.

Got there at 10.00AM and saw a couple of birders parked on the bridge footpath.I soon located the flock of 18 about 40 metres away on a tree that was on the verge of the A45 on the B'ham side of the bridge.

In the hour I stayed there they were very lively dropping down to the bushes just below the bridge and amazingly a couple of times a few of them landed briefly on the crash barrier on the A45 just below the bridge.

Cracking birds I love them to bits and will always race off to see them and hear them reeling to each other.Here are a few shots of the Meriden birds.

Monday, 24 January 2011

A Morning Trip to Nuneaton.

I cannot recall ever going to Nuneaton before so why would I drive over there on a dull Monday morning.Well Wawings of course.

There had been 148 reported there yesterday so this morning when I received a text saying there were 60 there in the same spot this morning I thought let's go for it especially as Dave Hutton (seeswoodpoolsandbeyond) had got some cracking shots there recently.

Got to the place at just after 10.00AM and was pleased to see Dave there but there was only one Waxwing on show and that was high up in a nearby tree.I need not have worried because although the flock did not return whilst I was there the lone Waxwing present turned out to be a gem.

Much like a film starlet as soon as it thought enough photographers were present it flew down to one of the berry trees and posed for shots.Here are a few shots which I am fairly pleased with as it was pretty dull.

On the way home I had to pass Seeswood pools where a White-fronted Goose had been seen the day before but unfortunately the cold had made me switch to wimp mode and I didn't stop.No wonder my annual Warwickshire is on on 67.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Marsh Lane early Sunday morning.

Not having ventured out birding for a few days I was keen to go out Sunday morning whatever the weather was so I was pleased to see it was brightening up when I got to Marsh lane just after 8.00AM.

The old road was pretty lively with 100+ Fieldfare in the trees and on the fields and a flock of 80+ Linnets flying around being the best spots.

The car park pool was very busy with loads of Ducks,Geese,Gulls,Lapwings etc. but nothing of note that I could see and no sign of the Bittern.The railway pool was pretty quiet and no sign of the two Jack Snipes seen in the marsh yesterday.Best spot was up to 12 Tree Sparrows on the Oak hide feeders and in the nearby bushes.Unfortunately the weather had become gloomy by this time so I couldn't get any decent shots of them but it was nice to see so many.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Brandon Marsh.

As the weather man told me on Wednesday morning it would be a dry day again I decided to pay Brandon Marsh another visit.Got there mid morning to find it brightening up so good for taking some shots as long as I could find something to point the camera at that is.

Had a good walk round but found it very quiet and damn cold .Yet again it was the East Marsh hide that had any action that was going.

The first thing of interest was when a duck came fairly close to the hide and an interesting discussion ensued whether it was the escapee NZ Scaup or a female Tufted Duck.My ID skills suck so when someone asked me what I thought I could only reply with a tame "I can't see a tuft" no one asked me again.

Another birder then entered the hide and he impressed everyone when via his fancy mobile phone he went on the net and got a pic.of a NZ Scaup which convinced most people it was the Scaup.Here are some shots of the NZ Scaup (I think).

When I started birding 5 years ago if a Bittern appeared at a site in the Midlands it was a bit of a sensation but now they are regular sightings at several places every year.If anyone is keen to see one you have an excellent chance in the East Marsh hide at Brandon Marsh where yesterday there were two that showed on and off all day again.Us regulars to the hide have got loads of shots and need something different such as one with a fish or frog however having said that they are always great to see.Here are a couple of shots from yesterday.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Draycote Water.

After doing some early morning shopping I decided to nip over to Draycote Water to try and get some decent shots of the drake Smew.

Got there mid morning and found the weather bright and not too cold.Well that's what it was like in the lower car park but as soon as I started to walk along the Farborough bank the sun went in and low clouds floated in from nowhere.That was not the worst of it because the famous Draycote northerly wind was blowing in straight from the Arctic and I very soon became frozen to death.It took only minutes for my thermals to be penetrated and as everyone knows that is not pleasant.

I bravely carried on and found the Smew near the spit but it was too far out for my lens to get a decent shot but I did get some shots of it with a fish.

After a short while I had to race back to the car before frostbite set in.I had an early lunch and got some feeling back in my limbs.By this time the sun had appeared again so off I went after the Smew again.It was still in the same spot but unfortunately it was even further out which was a shame because it was bright enough to get a decent shot.I soon gave up but on the walk back I did get a decent shot of a female Goosander.

A Visit to a gloomy Brandon Marsh.

With the dull weather still about I was pleased to get these two shots in my back garden on Sunday morning.The Blackcap shot was very pleasing as it was a good early Warwickshire tick.

Having stayed in for a couple of days I braved the dull conditions on Monday morning and went across to Brandon Marsh.It was very damp and misty to start with as I walked down the path from the centre but it was nice to be out.

Met up with Jim who was doing some ringing in the coppice to the right of the main path.He had caught a Nuthatch which he kindly let me photograph.The blood is Jim's not the birds.

It was good to see most of the paths were flood free so I visited a lot of the hides but only the East Marsh hide had any action.Here a Bittern spent most of the day unfortunately well hidden deep in the reeds however another Bittern flew in and out of the reeds a couple of times but I struggled to lock on and messed up a lot of my shots.

I left just after lunch and called in at Marsh Lane hoping to see the White fronted Goose reported there at the weekend.Despite several hundred Greylag Geese dropping as the sun was setting I failed to see it.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Two bad days out with the camera.

I have had a couple of poor days out with the camera this week one at Marsh Lane and one at Brandon Marsh.Nothing to do with either reserve which I love to visit but because the weather has been so gloomy that taking decent shots is a real struggle.

I popped across to Marsh Lane on Thursday afternoon for a quick visit braving the rainy conditions.It was very gloomy which was a shame because the car park pool was heaving with birds with many hundreds of Ducks,Gulls and Geese on the water and on the grass banks.Nothing special but I did see a few Common Snipe, a lone Shellduck, some GBB Gulls (a ML tick for me) and a distant brief view of the Bittern.

On Friday I spent a few hours at Brandon Marsh in the very dull conditions.Where is the sun? Despite wandering all over the reserve I saw very little and hardly took a shot.A friend had a Bittern fly over his head as he approached the EM hide but I never saw one at all.

My Warwickshire list has risen to 61 ticks with the Shellduck and a Wren (first Wren I'd seen for ages) which is probably miles behind everyone else.

Here are some pics I did manage.These are the best of the bunch so you can see how bad the rest were.I think one is the escapee NZ Scaup.Not sure what the juvenile Gulls are but there's a GBB Gull amongst them.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A Brandon Marsh Bittern.

For me Waxwings and Bitterns are magical birds because it doesn't how often you've seen them or how many shots you've got they are always great to see them again.So on Tuesday morning at Brandon I was pleased to see a Bittern again.

I got there mid morning and was disappointed to see the forecast was wrong yet again as it was very gloomy,damp and a cold wind was blowing.I didn't meet any birders as I made my way down the main path the reason for this was explained as I entered the East Marsh hide everyone was in there.The place was full probably because a Bittern had flown into the reeds half an hour ago.

I joined some friends at the end of the hide waiting patiently for it to show.Nothing showed for 45 minutes and when the Bittern did come out darting across the channel we were all caught napping mainly because we had been distracted by Kath who insisted on telling dirty jokes.This is the best I did which turned out to going,going gone shots.

Another hour later it appeared again this time to the front of the hide but well hidden in the reeds.Got a couple of more typical Bittern shots.

By this time I'd lost my seat and was standing at the back so when the Bittern flew across the front of the hide I messed up and didn't get a decent flight shot.This is my least bad shot.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

A cold morning at Marsh Lane.

It was sunny on Sunday morning so I set off for Marsh Lane.It didn't take me long to realise the country lanes were very icy and I had to go even slower than my normal pace but managed to get there at 9.00AM in one piece.

It was nice to see there was open water on the CP pool and loads of birds showing but other than a couple of Common Snipe there was nothing special.I then had a bit of luck as I met up with a couple of friends Colin and Steve and as we approached the northern causeway screen Colin spotted the Bittern even before he got to the screen.It was on the edge of the reeds pretty close to the screen.If I had been on my own I'm not sure I would have spotted it.

Nice to get some Marsh Lane Bittern shots.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Found some open water.

On Thursday morning when I saw that some more bad weather was on it's way for Friday onwards I thought I'd better go out with the camera and try and get some shots.Being shrewd for a change I decided to go to Draycote Water where the chance of some open water was higher than at the rest of my local patches.

When I got there at 10.30AM and started to walk down the Farborough Bank the good news was that it was calm and not too cold but the bad news was it was very gloomy and as I need bright conditions to get a half decent shot things were not looking good.Annoyingly only a few miles away there was blue sky but it stayed well away during my stay.

I soon met up with Francoise who told me the drake Smew was about a hundred metres this side of the spit so off I dashed to try for some shots.It stayed a bit far out so no decent shots but always nice to see and a nice Warwickshire tick.

After the Smew flew off towards the Valve Tower I walked a bit further along Farborough bank and was pleased to catch up with another of my favourite ducks some Goosanders.Got some reasonable shots of the females but the male I always seem to struggle with particularly in poor light.