Thursday, 31 March 2011

A Local Tour.

Having stayed in all day on Wednesday doing domestic chores I was keen to get out there with the camera on Thursday morning.

I headed first to the Ladywalk car park area where Waxwings had been seen there the previous day feeding on flies near the river.Well when I was there this morning not only were there no Waxwings there were no flies.

On to Whitacre Heath next.The car park was empty which is never a good sign but things started well when I got onto a male Blackcap not far down the main path.Although I had a good walk round and visited all the hides I saw nothing at all of note.Even the feeder hide was very quiet.

Off to Marsh Lane next.I got there at lunchtime to find it bright but very windy.I'm not sure if the wind had affected the birds because all the ponds were very quiet and there was no action at all until a Peregrine drifted through.Everything took to the air in panic but by the time I got onto it the Peregrine was almost in the next county.

A lot of effort with little to show for it but you cannot win them all.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A poor start but a great finish to a day's birding.

After some early morning shopping I went over to Draycote Water to try for the Black Redstart seen near the sailing club the day before.An hours search failed to locate it but having been entertained by the one at Coleshill a year or two ago I wasn't too bothered.

A walk down the Farborough bank was very disappointing and to put it crudely I saw buggerall so realising it was going to be a quiet day at Draycote I thought I'd rather stare at the reeds again and fail to see the Spotted Crake at Brandon Marsh.So off I went on the short drive down the A45.

Entered the East Marsh hide at 11.30AM to find it packed out with birders and to be told it had made two very brief appearances earlier that morning so I settled down to stare at the reeds.

Nearly three hours later there had been no sign of the Crake and the only moment of interest was when a Cetti's Warbler paid a visit to the reeds (no shots too quick for me).There were only five birders left in the hide three of which were togs.I was beginning to flake badly and worried about becoming brain dead and losing all feeling in my legs I was considering leaving the hide when all of a sudden the chap on my left shouted out "The Crakes out in the channel".

I immediately went into panic mode but eventually spotted it in my bins.Yipppeee!! a life tick.I was very surprised what a small bird it was.It seemed to be smaller than a Blackbird although it was a long way down the channel.

In my excitement at finally seeing it I had neglected to take any shots but I managed to rattle off a few before it scurried into the reeds.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Two and a half hours watching reeds.

Who on earth would be stupid enough to spend two and a half hours watching reeds.Well me for one and why did I do this?Because last night a Spotted Crake had been reported from the East Marsh hide at Brandon Marsh.

Never seen one before so the lure of a life tick was too much to resist so quite early this morning I joined Kevin and George in the hide where it had been seen much earlier near the channel.This is why I stared at the reeds hoping to get a glimpse of the Crake.

However,after searching for nearly two and a half hours looking at only reeds,irreversible brain damage was starting to manifest itself and also I was losing feeling in both legs so I had to escape fast.As I left the hide all I could hear was "Wimp", No stamina", "You'll be sorry".

I had a walk round and keen to take some shots of anything I had a go at a Chiffchaff which was again high up in the trees.

I then went to the Teal Pool hide to have lunch and as I was eating I noticed a Goldfinch also having lunch and I'm not sure who was the messier eater.Probably me.

I then had a go at getting shots of a dozen or so of Sandmartins zooming around catching flies.Good practice for getting Hobby shots when they arrive.My God these Sandmartins zip around a lot so how did I do?Well all I can say is my collection of empty sky shots has got much larger.Here are a couple of crappographs and in one you can see the fly it's after.

This Redpoll shot was still on the camera and I must have taken it at Whitacre Heath last Friday.It's obviously checking out the skies for the Sparrowhawk.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Another Visit to Whitacre Heath.

As soon as I saw that it was going to be another nice day I went over to Whitacre Heath again this morning.

Although it was very pleasant walking round the woods and visiting all the hides all I'd got to show by lunchtime was a shot of a Reed Bunting sitting on some candy floss and a decent shot of a Chiffchaff considering they staying high up in the trees.Also I did see my first Kingfishers of the year on the main pool.

After a quick lunch in the car park I headed to the Main Pool hide hoping the LS Woody would show up again at 1.00PM like it did on Tuesday.I joined up with Brian and Phil in the hide and soon we were joined by Glen.Right on cue the Woody turned up on the reeds in front of the hide just as a woman photographer entered the hide.What timing!!!!!!

There were 5 togs in the hide all rattling off shots so when it showed well there were 40 shots a second being taken and I bet by the time it flew off we jointly had taken 1000 shots.

So how were my shots? Considering it stayed for several minutes and was at the back of the reeds in front of the hide they were poor for some reason loads were out of focus, underexposed etc.Here are a few of the better ones.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Whitacre Heath.

Having done the early morning shopping on Tuesday and seeing it was going to be a nice day I decided to go to Whitacre Heath.The plan was to avoid the feeder hide and to try and get some Chiffchaff shots (not got any this year they will not stay still for me) and to try and see the elusive LS Woody (fat chance).

It was very pleasant walking round the woods but by lunchtime all I'd got to show for my efforts was a shot of a mouse (field mouse?) and a crappograph of a Chiffchaff.

After a bit of lunch in the car park I went back to the main pool hide and joined up with Jeff,Brian and Adrian hoping to see the LSW that apparently visits this area.We hadn't seen anything of note after half an hour and the chat was flowing well when I of all people saw a movement to the left of the hide on the reeds and after checking it with the bins was able to shout out "Got the lesser spotted".

Pics not great as it was a bit far off for my lens but chuffed to bits finding it.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Earlswood Lakes.

Having had to pay a visit to the dentist early on Monday morning I had decided that I would have to have a relaxing non birding day to try and calm my nerves down (What a wimp).However as I was in the area visiting a garden centre I could not resist having a look for the Mandarin duck reported again yesterday at Earlswood Lakes.

I was not confident of seeing it as I'd failed on my last two visits earlier in the month.It looked like another failure as I couldn't spot it on the water of Windmill lake until I scanned the bank along the causeway and saw this.

I'd seen one before but that was a long way off on a river so I was pleased to get some close shots.It was in an awkward spot requiring me to hang out over the fencing but what a colourful chap.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A Visit to Whitacre Heath.

On Friday morning I was keen to get out with the camera if only to keep me away from doing more gardening which is slowly destroying my neck,shoulder and back muscles so I thought another trip to Whitacre Heath was in order.I could have another go for the LS Woodies.

The gate was open when I got there because some tree work was being done so no battling with the combination lock.I headed straight for the River Pool hide area and spent over an hour waiting patiently but saw nothing except for a couple of Chiffchaffs and certainly no LS Woodies.So as it was brightening up I headed for the Feeder hide.

I met up with Malcolm Goode and Tom Melton in the hide who had set up things nicely.Always nice to meet up with these two especially as they are great photographers.

The Lesser Redpolls were there showing well but no sign of the Mealy Redpoll that has been seen there lately.

I was pleased a Siskin turned up because I've struggled to see them this year and hadn't got any decent shots.

A discussion took place when a Willow/Marsh Tit turned up as to what it was.I couldn't enter the discussion as I'd forgotten how you told them apart.It was eventually thought it was a Willow Tit but checking later at home it does have a glossy head so a Marsh Tit?????

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Brandon Marsh and Marsh Lane.

On Monday morning I shot over to Brandon Marsh and was greeted with very pleasant spring weather so I decided to have a good look round to try and find one of the Chiffchaffs reported the day before.

Although it was very pleasant walking round I hardly saw any birds at all let at alone a Chiffchaff.It was very quiet indeed and very disappointing especially as I'd walked around for ages.I did get a distant view of a Dunlin and a Redshank from the hides but that was all.

When I sat down in the cafe waiting for a cup of tea I started to sweat profusely.Thinking I'd contracted Beri Beri or Deng fever I was very relieved to find that I was sitting right next to a very hot radiator.Panic over.

Tuesday lunchtime still aching all over from doing some gardening I very bravely went across to Marsh Lane.The car park pool was quieter than it had been lately with a couple of Redshanks and a few Common Snipe the only decent birds on show.The WF Goose continues to hide from me.

The Railway pool was again good for waders with 2 Redshanks,a lone Oystercatcher,2 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plovers and a lone Little Ringed Plover seen during my stay.

Here are few shots taken but too gloomy for any decent ones but nice to see the waders are back.

Watched this chap hunting in the Marsh and I must say he was very patient.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Some Waders at Marsh Lane.

The weatherman told me it would be dry and soon brightening up but when I got to Marsh Lane early Sunday morning I had to race from the car park to the hide to avoid the rain.It remained dull,cold and damp for the two hours I was there.

It turned out to be a good morning for waders with 3 Oystercatchers, 2 Redshanks, 3 Ringed Plovers, a lone Little Ringed Plover and a lone Dunlin present.The best wader day so far this year.

No decent shots because all the waders were a bit distant and it was very gloomy.