Sunday, 27 February 2011

Marsh Lane early Sunday morning.

Went down to Marsh lane early this morning to try and have a quick look round before the rain came down.Arrived at 8.00AM and was greeted as I entered the car park by a lone Skylark singing high up over the tip field.Another Warks year tick.

I then struggled to get into the car park hide as the latch was playing up.Thinking that a rarity was lurking on the islands waiting for my camera I persevered and finally got the latch to operate but alas there was no rarity on show.

From the Oak hide I was pleased to see the first waders of the year a couple of Ringed Plovers and three Oystercatchers.All a bit distant so no decent shots.

By this time it had got gloomy and there was rain in the air so I raced home for a coffee.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Off to meet Mr. and Mrs. Scaup.

As soon as I saw the forecast was for sunny weather I raced off to Draycote Water on Thursday morning aiming to see the Scaups and a Brambling which I needed for my year Warwickshire ticks list.

Got there a little after 10.00AM just as it was brightening up.Headed for the Outlet and soon found both Scaups off the Hensborough Bank but they were a bit far out and both asleep.These two are always asleep so I think they must go out every night partying and need to sleep it off during the day.Here is a shot of how they look most of the time.

Luckily for me Francoise turned up and she is well known for luring them closer in.She is not known as the Scaup Lady for nothing.Here are a few of my better shots.

I then walked to the inlet and had some more luck when I found Richard Mays and Bob Hazell there with their scopes on the Finch flock at the back of the field below Draycote Bank.They put me onto some Bramblings so another year tick!!!

It was then that we spotted the local hunt another field further back heading our way.Here is a shot of some of them having lost touch with the dog pack as they trotted right over the spot where the Finch flock feeds.

Here is a shot of the dog pack as it burst out of the small coppice below the inlet and headed along the Draycote Bank to Rainbow corner.They probably wanted to see the Scaups.

Here is a shot of the hunt leader complete with horn looking for the dogs and exchanging pleasantries with Richard.

Did see Peacock and Brimstone butterflies today.I've no idea if this is early or not.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A quick visit to Marsh Lane.

Fed up with the dull damp weather keeping me from going out with the camera I thought sod it and went on Tuesday lunchtime across to Marsh Lane.Although it was very gloomy and pretty chilly it was nice just to be out.

From the Carpark hide there were the usual suspects in great numbers especially Wigeon (hundreds), 13 Common Snipe in front of the hide, and a very amorous pair of Goosanders near the far bank.

I didn't see much from the Oak hide except for at least 10 Tree Sparrows and a Nuthatch.I was very pleased to see the Nuthatch as I hadn't seen one for a while.I managed a few shots but the gloomy conditions didn't help.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Yet another gloomy day.

When are we going to see the sun again I wondered as yet again I was greeted by gloomy wet weather this morning.

Surprisingly my small suburban back garden was quite lively with 8 Lesser Redpolls, a couple of Siskins and a lone male Blackcap present but it was so gloomy a powerful spotlight was needed to get any shots.I did have a go at the Blackcap in the gloom.

After lunch I went to Shirley to drop off a Waxwing shot requested by one of the residents I met when taking shots there on Sunday morning. I had a bit of luck as I pulled up outside their house because 8 Waxwings landed on the trees quite near me (apparently the first sighting of the day).They didn't stay long (the berries are getting a bit thin on the ground) but I was able to rattle of a few shots before they flew to a distant tree.

It was still gloomy but managed some better shots than the pretty poor ones taken on Sunday.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Some more local Waxwings.

Having had a couple of disappointing days birding last week and having stayed indoors yesterday I thought I'd nip out early on Sunday morning to try and find the Waxwings reported yesterday at the back of Morrison's supermarket in Shirley.

Got there not long after 8.30AM and found that there was good news and bad news.The good news was that approx. 40 of the beauties flew high into a tree just as I parked up in a cul-de-sac at the back of the store.The bad news was that it was very gloomy and there was drizzle in the air.

I've been lucky enough to catch up with Waxwings several times but always when the weather was dull.So it was this morning so no chance of getting a decent shot but as always great to see them.They stayed for about 20 minutes before flying off.They did threaten to return a couple of times but never landed.

In December when I was taking shots of them in a cul-de-sac in Dorridge I was nearly arrested when a local resident thought I was checking the place out for some illegal purposes but today a couple were only too pleased to let me take shots from their driveway and even invited me to have a cup of tea.You never know how you will be received if you are carrying a camera.

Here are a few shots taken in very poor light.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

You cannot win then all.

You cannot win them all and some days you have to have a bad day's birding.Well this happened to me twice this last week.

First on Wednesday morning I decided to pay a visit to Whitacre Heath and have a couple of hours in the feeder hide hoping to point the camera at some Willow/Marsh Tits, Redpolls and Siskins. I should have known that things wouldn't go to plan when battling with the coded padlock on the entrance gate.I'd been warned you needed to use some force opening the lock but when I did so my hand slipped and smashed against the gate.A lot of swearing ensued.

As soon as I sat down in the hide the sun went in and it became too gloomy for decent shots but it did not matter because in an hour's stay I saw no decent birds at all.I then gave up and being very careful with the padlock I left for Marsh Lane.

On route to there I stopped in Meriden to cheer myself up with a session with the Waxwings but they were nowhere to be seen.Marsh Lane did have a Stonechat present but I couldn't find it.I then left for home having not taken one shot.

On Friday morning, as soon as I heard the weekend was going to be very wet, I thought I'd better go out somewhere so, although it was gloomy,I set off for Brandon Marsh.When I walked down the path from the centre it was damp, dank, dismal, depressing and dull.So OK for getting some decent shots then!!!

I walked all the round the reserve and saw nothing of interest to point the camera at and it wasn't until I had been there for well over an hour that I bumped into another birder.The EM hide was empty with no Bittern watchers present which means they must have left the area (the birds not the watchers).The Carlton hide was particularly depressing with no birds present or birders to chat to but it wasn't a total loss because being there did give a glimpse of what it would be like if all life was wiped out except for you.

The visit was not a total loss because I did see the leucistic Lapwing although it was a long way off. Also I did cheer up a lot when in the cafe a much needed cup of tea was served with a smile by the very attractive waitress.

Monday, 14 February 2011

I've been diagnosed with W.O.S.

It was no surprise to me when this weekend my specialist confirmed I'd got W.O.S. (Waxwing Obsession Syndrome - You are powerless to resist going to see them over and over again).What was a bit of a surprise when he said that there was no known cure.

W.O.S. manifested itself again this morning when having stayed in yesterday and had had a poor day out with the camera on Saturday I needed to go out and get some shots I chose to go to Meriden yet again for the Waxwings.

Parked up at 9.00AM in bright sunshine but by the time I got to the bridge low clouds had raced in and made it very gloomy.They were not around but I was confident they would turn up eventually as they have been very reliable since Nic Barlow first found them way back in December and I've been lucky enough to see them several times.

50 of them suddenly turned up at 9.30AM and roosted in one of their usual trees right along the A45.Here is a shot showing them close to the main road and another showing them on a distant tree some 300 metres from the road.

They were very flighty this morning as you can see with these attempts at flight shots.

They flew off at 10.15AM so I went to the nearby Marsh Lane for a quick look round.I searched for a Stonechat that had been seen earlier but failed so just as I was thinking of heading back home for a coffee W.O.S. kicked in again and I headed back to Meriden once more.

No sign at first but they soon appeared again this time feeding on the berry bushes either side of the Coventry slip road.What cracking birds they are.Here are some close ups.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A morning visit to Draycote Water.

On Saturday morning I thought if I was going to go out with the camera I'd better avoid Brandon Marsh and Meriden so I wouldn't take any more shots of Bitterns or Waxwings.I never thought I'd ever have to say this but shots of these magical birds is all I've taken lately.So I decided to go to Draycote Water to try for shots of something different.

Now only a fool goes there at the weekend if the weather is fine because it can become very busy and so it was when I got there not long after 9.00AM with loads of joggers limbering up in the car park.I don't mind the joggers it's the cyclists I worry about particularly as in these days of Health and Safety they are allowed to ride on the footpaths alongside the dam walls.These cyclists all seem to be huge guys racing along to beat their best time and you don't hear them coming till they are right on top of you.Scary.

So how did I do with the camera ? Well not very well as it turned out. It started well when I found a nice female Goosander along the Farborough Bank.

Then a little further on I got the drake Smew who yet again refused to come in close unlike the one last year who was a real gentleman and often came in near the dam wall.

From then on things went to pot. I decided to try and find the female Scaup and this meant for me a massive hike all the way from the spit on Farborough Bank to the inlet on Draycote Bank.I never saw anything of interest on the walk to the inlet and when I got there I was told the Scaup was now by the picnic area but when I got back to picnic area I was told it had just flown the the inlet. Bugger!!!! That was a long walk to not take one shot.

Near the sail club park I did find this Gull resting on the shore. My Gull ID skills suck so I'm not sure what it is but if I had to guess I'd say Herring Gull ????

Friday, 11 February 2011

A bit of local birding.

Went across to Marsh Lane mid morning today to see if anything was about.Saw a Oystercatcher which was nice being the first this year.

I then made an error and left the car park hide and went looking for a Jack Snipe from the Oak hide which I didn't see.Whilst I was wasting my time there a Ruff had landed close to the car park hide.It had flown when I returned there. Bugger!!!!

I then had a quick look in Meriden to see if the Waxwings were showing.There was no one there when I walked across the bridge but there were some Waxwings.At least 40 of the beauties.They were very flighty and hard to get close to spending a lot of the time in a tree on the central reservation of the A45 on the Coventry side.Lorries and buses roaring just below them didn't seem to worry them at all.Here is part of the flock on that tree.

Didn't get any close shots this time as they were too flighty so tried for some flight shots which was damn difficult.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Two amazing garden ticks.

On Wednesday afternoon as I walked into the garden as if from nowhere a Barn Owl appeared and stayed for quite a while seemingly not bothered by my presence.

Then even more amazingly a Malaysian Brown Wood Owl dropped in as well and it did not seem bothered by my or the Barn Owl's presence.It also stayed around for a while.

Of course I've lied a little but not too much.Both these birds were in the garden but not mine and they were not ticks as they belong to a friend who has raised them and they are tame.

I'd popped along to Meriden again to see if the Waxwings were there (they weren't) and luckily bumped into Glen Delaney who kindly invited me to his home which was just down the road to see his Owls.Here is a shot of Glen and also of a model he had hired from Nuneaton to show the Owl off better.( Hope she didn't charge too much Glen).

A very enjoyable hour in the company of a couple of great birds.Cheers Glen.Here are a few more shots.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A Local Tour.

As soon as I saw that on Tuesday morning the wind had died down and the sun was shining this fair weather birder ventured out again with the camera.I decided to go to Brandon Marsh but via Meriden first to see if any Waxwings were there.

Got to Meriden just after 10.00AM and parked not far from the bridge.The Waxwings did not appear to be there but when I was about to give up I spotted one down the slip road high up on top of a silver birch.Managed a few shots before it flew off.I believe about 20 were there in the afternoon.

Got to Brandon just before lunchtime and soon ended up in the East Marsh hide which was packed out with the Bittern watchers.I was determined not to take any more shots as I'd been lucky enough to take loads in the last few weeks but they are such magical birds I couldn't resist a few more.

I did a lot of walking round looking for Goldcrests to try for a decent shot or two but I failed hopelessly yet again.Did get a shot of a Willow Tit which is certainly not anywhere decent but I was pleased to get it at Brandon where they are considered to be quite rare.

Good to see the local Sparrowhawk is paying visits to the backgarden again.Got this shot this morning through the bedroom window so lets hope it keeps visiting so I can get a decent shot.