Monday, 27 June 2016


As I've mentioned in previous blogs I've drawn a blank this Summer trying to find and get shots of one of my favourite birds Spotted Flycatchers.I love these chaps to bits and every year for ages I've been able to find some without any difficulty but not this year.Visit to all my banker spots for them have ended up with failure.

A good friend from Marsh Lane saved me from complete despair at the weekend by putting me in contact with a couple who have a pair nesting in the back garden of their cottage in a private estate.There is no access without permission.

Eventually found the rather splendid cottage which was situated in impressive parkland just after 10.15 AM this morning.The owner was very accommodating invited me in and wanted to know if I preferred the garden or the house to get my shots.This was easily answered because as soon as we entered the dining room a Spotted Flycatcher dropped down from a wall vine and landed on a bench about 4 metres away.

Spent a very enjoyable hour with the owner.The birds showed well gathering insects for young.An excellent cup of coffee was provided and very good chat was had.Why can't all birding be like this.Here are a few of many shots I took looking through an open dining room window.

Saturday, 25 June 2016


Despite travelling around a lot recently mainly locally but also including trips into Worcestershire and to the Oxfordshire border I have failed very badly to take any decent bird shots.We are well into the Summer doldrums.Some of my favourite spots have been desperately quiet.

A couple of days ago I got permission to go onto private land where some Spotted Flycatchers had been seen but despite looking for a couple of hours I failed to spot any.My Spotted Flycatcher jinx this year continues.Whilst there though I did spot a couple of young deer (Roe Deer ??).

Had Marsh Lane to myself for a while early yesterday morning.From the Oak hide I did get some shots of a Common Tern with it's chick

The only other time I used the camera was when a Reed Warbler showed well briefly from the N Causeway hide. I did miss getting a shot of a Water Rail because I was far too slow.

Monday, 20 June 2016


Despite the recent rain I have managed to get out there a few times since my last blog but I'm blowed if I can find any decent birds locally to point the camera at but I suppose we are in the Summer doldrums.

A good banker for me is the Brueton Park NR in Solihull but recently I drew a blank here.It was very quiet and only the small Heronry gave me an opportunity for some shots.

Did see a pair of Nuthatches on a friend's feeder but couldn't get any decent shots.

After the rain stopped this morning I popped over to Marsh Lane for the first time for a while.I was amazed how many BH Gull chicks there were on the islands.There must be well over 100.

I struggled to get any shots but did get a nice one of a Reed Warbler.

Got this shot of a juvenile.I think it's of a Reed Warbler as well but I'm not certain.

There are quite a few Common Tern chicks on the islands.They are very cute and it's hard to believe that in only a few months they'll have to fly all the way to S Africa.

Very worrying was when I was alone on site when a couple of Gunships flew right over the Oak hide.Were they after me ???? 

Saturday, 11 June 2016


After the excitement earlier in the week with the stunning summer plumage Black Necked Grebe showing so well for a couple of days on the Engine pool at Earlswood I came down to earth with a bump seeing nothing at all despite going out a few times.

On Thursday I went to Hanbury Hall the NT property. I went there with one aim in mind and that was to see a Spotted Flycatcher.I love these chaps to bits and every year I go after them and usually I am very successful but this year I have checked out 4 of  the places I usually see them but have drawn a blank so my trip to Hanbury Hall was the last throw of the dice.

I headed straight to the wall climber where they have nested for the last 3 years but despite waiting patiently for an age I didn't see one.Oh Dear ! ! Am I going to miss out this year ? ? Serves me right for boasting every year how many local places I knew where to see them.

The only shot I took while walking the extensive grounds at Hanbury Hall was this Song Thrush.I left just after lunch pretty depressed.

Early yesterday morning I went down to Marsh Lane to try and see the Grasshopper Warbler that has eluded me on my last couple of visits.However despite waiting patiently I didn't hear it reeling let alone seeing it.

Very little about elsewhere on the reserve and the only excitement was when these 3 Oystercatchers who were minding their own business were attacked by a Coot.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016


Yesterday morning I went over to Marsh Lane to try and get some shots of the Grasshopper Warbler reported there recently somewhere along the causeway.

The good news was that in an hour's stay I heard it reeling several times but but the bad news was that I never saw it once.I did get a shot of a Sedgie that was shouting out at me but that was all.

In need of cheering up after failing with the Groppler I thought I would go over to Earlswood lakes again to see if the BNG had stayed for another day.It had and although the light was not so good after a patient wait it came into range for a while.What a cracking bird.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016


Although I've been lucky enough to see them several times I've never been able to get a decent shot of a Black Necked Grebe in summer plumage before.It's only taken me 13 years but yesterday I managed it.

The timing could not have been worse because I had a dentist's appointment at 2.00 PM and a text from John Oates telling me a BNG was on the Engine Pool at Earlswood lakes arrived at 12.00 noon.After dithering a while I decided to go after the dentist and hope it was still there.

Luckily when I arrived at the lakes it was still there and fairly close in although the sun was in the wrong place but I'm not moaning what a cracking bird.Great to get some decent shots at last.

Saturday, 4 June 2016


I think the Summer birding doldrums may have arrived already as I have been struggling to get any decent shots since my visit to the Chilterns for the Red Kites last week.Things have not been helped by me doing my back in yet again this time whilst doing some light gardening.I hadn't been digging up a tree stump all morning for goodness sake I was doing some light pruning.What a wimp ! ! !

A couple of visits to my local patch Marsh Lane were very quiet and the only shots I took were of a young Pied Wagtail screaming out to Mom "Get me some food Dammit I'm starving" and of The Beast as it flew very low and slow over the rail line.Very impressive sight.


Yesterday morning I went over to Brueton Park in Solihull to visit the small NR there.Glad I went because the weather man's gloomy forecast was wrong and it was bright and sunny.

No Nuthatches on the cafe feeders was a disappointment but I did manage to get a decent Jay shot on my walk round.

In one of the glades I spotted a Goldcrest. One of my favourite birds. I love them to bits however they are a devil to get a decent shot of but great fun trying.Spent a pleasant hour trying and did OK but nothing special as I had a lot of trouble focusing on them against the dark of the foliage.

The Terrapin was sunning itself on a tree stump.I'm sure it's got bigger since I last saw it a few months ago.It appears to have pretty formidable claws as well.

There was only one young Grey Heron still on a nest in the mini Heronry.I assume all the others have left.

A very pleasant morning at this little NR but I had to scurry off earlier than I would have done because the dreaded warning "Half Term" had slipped my mind and soon the place was filling up with very noisy kids.