Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A Green Winged Teal

As I drove along towards Brandon marsh this morning I asked myself "What on earth are you out birding today when it's so cold,damp and gloomy".Well to be quite honest I didn't know as I promised myself recently never to go out in these conditions when it was no good for getting decent pics.

Headed straight for the River pool hide to see if I could find the Green Winged Teal reported there yesterday.I was surprised to find the path there so muddy still and I had to struggle in my designer wellies that have no tread to speak of.

The good news was it was still there the bad news was that in two 1 hour visits to the hide the miserable so and so would not move from the far bank.Typical Yank.All it's British cousins came over but it didn't so I ended up with dozens of crappographs.

On the way home I received a text from my good friend Jeff Rankin that there was a Goosander showing well on the car park lake in Brueton Park so I took a minor detour and called in to get some shots.Pity about the gloomy conditions but a cracking bird to see up close.I made a mistake last time I saw one of these when I called it a female when it was a juvenile male which this one maybe ???.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Out in the bitter cold.

I don't know whether I was very brave or I was fed up with staying in but on Saturday morning I headed over to Brandon Marsh when the weather was bitter cold and gloomy.

Had a bit of luck in the Baldwin hide when my first of the year Oystercatchers were on the island feeding away.

There were no birds on the Teal Pool at all and the birds on the East Marsh pool were a long way off.The Carlton Pool was very quiet and freezing cold but one of the Bitterns showed for a second as it hopped out reeds way over to the left on the next pool and the second one flew across the top of the reeds to the right of the hide for about 10 seconds.Everyone got shots except me as at the time I was eating a salad roll and trying to clear up some salad cream that had escaped the roll.Damn !!!!!

After some tea and thawing out in the cafe I joined a couple of friends in the Baldwin hide hoping that the two Great Crested Grebes would go into mating mode.They didn't while I was there but they are cracking looking birds to watch.Mind you one of them gave me it's opinion of my shots.

On the way home I had a look for the flock of Bramblings (200 apparently) that visit the fields near the Vulcan bomber at Bagington airport but I had no luck but I did get a couple of shots of a Kestrel which are not bad considering the gloomy conditions.

Nearer home I checked on a field next to the pub in Meer End and was pleased to see loads of Redwings which were the first I'd seen for ages and a few Mistle Thrushes.

I went out again this morning when if anything it was even colder.Why I hear you say well a Shag had been seen at Marsh Lane on Saturday which I believe might be a first for Marsh Lane and I wanted to see it.The trouble was it wasn't there but I did see the Bittern which was again in the reeds to the left of the Reed Bed pool.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A bit of local birding.

Went to Marsh Lane again on Monday lunchtime and found the Bittern again this time on the right hand side  of the reed bed pool.It was perched high up in the reeds but despite being patient for the best part of a couple of hours the miserable so and so refused to budge and all I ended up with yet again were some crappographs.

Had an energetic morning on Tuesday which was a bit of a surprise as one of the many things I haven't got these days is energy.After doing an early morning shop in Knowle I shot over to Solihull to return some overdue library books and as soon as I got back home I grabbed the camera and went to Hams Hall to have a go for the Firecrest again.

Got there just before 11.00 AM and was surprised to see no one there.Spent an hour looking in the trees just past the bridge but it was very quiet with hardly any birds showing let alone the Firecrest.Got a shot or two of some Chiffchaffs but that was all.

I then went across to Ladywalk to have another go at the Siberian Chiffchaffs.Went down the path to the wooden gates were I met Dave Hutton but he had had no luck so I headed back to the car park to get some shots of what was on the feeders.Although the feeders were not so busy as last time I was here there were still some Lesser Redpolls (no Mealy ones),Bullfinches,Reed Buntings etc.

I soon became knackered and headed home.Failed to see my target birds but it was very pleasant wandering around in the very pleasant sunny weather.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A frustrating morning with the camera.

Had a bit of a frustrating morning with the camera this morning at Marsh Lane.There were loads of birds showing including some decent ones but they were not in the mood to have their picture taken.

The first one to be uncooperative was the Little Egret which refused to come out from behind the reeds to the left of the car park hide.

There were 5 Oystercatchers on the reserve but I'm blowed if I could get a shot of them as they were too mobile or too distant.

In the Oak hide the marsh was full of Common Snipe at least 30 of them most of which were well hidden.

Eventually we spotted the Jack Snipe but despite being patient for nearly an hour it did not move.This is a shot of it but you'll have to believe me that it is a Jack Snipe.

Even more frustrating was the Bittern which was in it's usual spot in the reeds to the left of the southern causeway screen but it refused to show well despite waiting for ages for it to make a move.This is the best shot I took I hope you can see it.

Nice to see so many birds on a bright frosty morning but it would have been nice to have got some decent shots.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A couple of trips out.

Managed to get this shot of a Sparrowhawk that visited my garden on Wednesday.It stayed only a few seconds so all I could get was this shots through the glass of an upstairs window.

 Went to Marsh Lane for a quick visit on Thursday lunchtime and despite the floods everywhere and some sharp showers managed to get some shots of the Little Egret that visits sometimes.

 Went to Brandon Marsh on Friday morning and was not surprised to see that you needed a boat to get to the hides on the main path.I decided to have a walk round past the Wright hide and the golf course in the pleasant sunshine. Didn't manage many shots but did see a Treecreeper and a couple of Lesser Redpolls.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A grim morning's birding.

Little did I know as I drove along the lanes to Brandon Marsh on Friday morning what depressing time was ahead of me.I did get a hint when I got out the car the early brightness has disappeared and it had become pretty gloomy.

As I walked along the main path there was a distinct lack of birds in the trees and bushes.It was quite eerie.The Baldwin,Teal Pool and East Marsh hides were very disappointing with very little on show with what birds there were were all distant and hunkered down on what was left of the islands.Even the birds were depressed.

I spent the best part of two hours in the Carlton hide mainly because a friend was in there and I had someone to chat to but My God it was quiet on the birding front with only a couple of Coots being on view for the first hour and then the odd Duck and a Swan paid visits.When it's like this being in the Carlton hide can be a very grim experience it's only just a bit better than having a filling done at the dentists.

After my friend left I was left with two other birders who had come from Worcestershire.They were as fed up as I was and I was amused when one said "This is a worse experience than when I got lost in a Cairo slum a few years ago".

My morning was saved a bit when I found the almost tame Robins on the main path and they posed for some shots.

I shouldn't moan too much because it was a gloomy day in February and you should not expect too much but you can tell how depressed I was with my morning's birding because a chat with the pretty waitress failed to liven me up.I know you can't win them all but this morning I lost very badly.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Marsh Lane.

Having been kept from going out birding by the recent strong winds as soon as I saw this morning that they had dropped considerably I grabbed the camera and shot over to Marsh Lane.

As I got out the car in the car park I was surprised how cold it was in the sunshine.You would have thought the ice on all the puddles would have given me a clue.There were loads of Ducks on the car park pool including up to 300 Wigeon but there were no signs of the Goosanders or the Little Egret.

There was no sign of the Bittern on the Reedbed pool from the causeway screens.This was not going well on the photography front.The Oak hide wasn't much better although there were up to 30 Common Snipe in the marsh most well hidden.

There were at least 3 Common Gulls on the water but I could not see anything of note.

A Fox showed up on the distant bank and it soon let me know what it thought of the shots I'd taken that morning.

The cold got the better of me and I headed back home.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Struggled all day.

Did a local tour yesterday in the sunshine but struggled all day not only with finding some birds to point the camera at but also with the bitterly cold wind that seemed to follow me round all day.I'm sure the wind had got some needles and razor blades in it because it penetrated all the layers I was wearing very quickly and quite soon penetrated my thermals.

Went to Brandon Marsh first and had a very poor day.The place was as quiet as I'd ever seen it with no birds to see let alone get some shots of.I ended up in the Carlton hide where luckily for me there were several friends filling up the seats but unfortunately no birds at all.There must have been £100,000 of camera kit in the hide with nothing to use it on.How sad is that.

The cold beat me after well over an hour in the hide and to prevent frostbite getting too bad  I retreated to the cafe for some warming tea.Luckily for me my waitress friend was on duty and a chat with her soon cheered me up.

After some tea I headed over to Marsh Lane where unlike some times at Brandon Marsh there are always lots of Ducks,Geese and Gull on view.

Tried for the Bittern on the reed bed pool but had no luck.From the Oak hide there were a few Common Snipe in the marsh and a Peregrine showed up but perched in a distant tree in Sidden wood.Best spot was a Pink Footed Goose but it was on the far bank too far for decent shots.

On the car park pool there was a lone Shellduck first I'd seen for ages.The female Goosander was again present but stayed on the far bank.The Little Egret was also present again but did not come close this time.

The wind beat me again and I headed home not long after 2.00 PM. A lot of effort,loads of miles,no decent birds or shots and bitterly cold all day.Not one of my better days but you can't win every time.

Friday, 1 February 2013

A quick visit to Marsh Lane.

As soon as I saw it was brightening up this morning I drove over to Marsh Lane hoping to see the Bittern that has been showing again in it's usual spot.

As soon as I opened a window in the Car Park hide a very cold wind blew in and I thought " My god  I won't be able to stand this for long " but this thought was soon forgotten when I spotted a Goosander behind the nearest island and a Little Egret at the far end of the left hand island.

The Goosander did not play ball at all and stayed miles away most of the time.Hardly took any shots.

The Little Egret was much better and flew around quite a bit sometimes landing not far from the hide.Managed a few decent shots as I tried not to blow out the whites which I usually do.


Tried for the Bittern from the causeway screen but had no luck.Others with more patience than me were still there when I left so they might have had better luck then me.