Saturday, 18 March 2017

Avocet Time at Upton

Thursday took us off to Upton Warren, primarily for our first views of the Avocets now that they have returned, from various forums we knew that they were now back in good numbers, it was just a shame that after a couple of days of glorious sunshine, that the only day we could get there was rather dull! But here are a few Avocet photos anyway,

Other birds at the Flashes at Upton were; Shelduck, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Black-headed Gull, Lapwing and a glimpse of a Curlew.
One of the many Lapwing
Walking back to the car park a couple of Goldcrest put in an appearance, but wouldn't give me a good view for a photo, this was the best I could do!
At the Sailing Pool we counted at least 10 Great Crested Grebe, all looked like they were pairing up and doing some courtship posturing, but no weed dancing yet!

We popped over to the Moors Pools and stopped at all the hides for a while, although it was fairly quiet, we added Tufted Duck, Cormorant and Little Grebe to the list of Waterfowl,

The feeders to the right of the concrete (Water Rail) hide were busy with Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Tits and Dunnock with the odd Chaffinch showing up.

A couple of Canada Geese performed in front of the hide,

A pair of Bullfinch did show briefly, but thats about it apart from the Rats!

So 40 species in all today, with the Avocet bringing us up to 97 for the year.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

A Belated Sandwell Valley Report!

A couple of weeks ago we mad a trip to the Valley with our good friends Wendy and Tim. We started of from the Forge Mill car park and did the RSPB 'bit', sadly the hide was shut as there were works going on on the paths, so we detoured down the muddy paths cutting out part of the reserve.

Tufty's were showing well as usual,
 and it was nice to see the Black-headed Gulls back in their Summer plumage,
 a couple of Oystercatchers were sunning themselves,
 and if you look closely there is a single Snipe on the left of this photo, keeping the Lapwing company.
 I was surprised to find two Yellow-legged Gulls, keeping to themselves away from the hoards of Black-headed Gulls.
 Even though Buzzards are now a common sight, I still love taking photos of such a brilliant bird.
Other birds of note at Forge Mill were plenty of Goosander, although none came close enough for a decent photo, likewise a few Pochard were about, and a pair of Shoveler seen from one of the screens. The feeders at the visitor centre provided Bullfinch, Greenfinch, the usual Tits, but unfortunately no sign of Willow Tits this time.

So after a good walk we popped back in the car and went over to Swan Pool for another walk.
At first sight nothing to special, but like Buzzards, Great Crested Grebes are always worth a photo or three!

A pair of Goldeneye were out in the middle of the pool:

always worth seeing. We then saw our first Stonechats of the year,

 The pools through out the Valley held plenty of Tufted Ducks,
 Grey Heron
 and as we wandered back, this Cormorant was seen showing off.
 The finally a Song Thrush popped out by the Car Park.

 A total of 39 species were seen, so not great but not bad either!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Kinver and the invisible Yellow-browed Warbler!

Friday took us back to Kinver for one of our favourite walks and the hope of seeing the Yellow-browed Warbler. Along the canal there was plenty of evidence of the previous days Storm Doris with a large tree down across the towpath, but we did manage to negotiate our way through the branches and continue our walk.

I was surprised at how quiet it was, our last visit about 4 weeks ago, the whole walk had been teeming with birds, but not so today, perhaps as it was lunch time (ish) they had all gone for a nap!

We arrived at Whittington about 1:15 and had a good look around, but no sign of the Warbler. So we carried on as far as the bench on the Staffs/Worcs border and had a coffee. We turned back as we needed to get back to the Vine at Kinver as we wanted to avail ourselves of the carvery and this stopped at 3pm and still allow a bit of time for looking for this ***** Warbler!

So we tried again and finally.......... nothing! We then made it to the Vine by 2:45 so we were good for lunch!

What is really annoying is that on @WestMidsBirds there were two allegedly good showings of the said bird at 11:45am and 3pm!! It's a good job that we love that walk anyway and weren't just twitching! The Yellow-browed Warbler would be a lifer for us, but hey-ho, that's birding, just grin and bear it!

Having said all that we had a great time and did of course see one or two birds! With Buzzards showing well a few times along the way.+
We saw our first Grey Wagtail of the year,
and it's always great to see a Song Thrush showing off.
We had the briefest of glimpses of a Kingfisher both on the river and the canal, a Jay flew in front of us and Long-tailed Tits gave us a a little show too. This walk however failed to give us a Goldcrest, we have seen them regularly on this walk but not today.
As lent approaches the Easter Bunny was out in the sunshine feeding up,

Birding wise it wasn't bad, they were just difficult to find this time. Eighteen species seen so pretty good and a really good lunch at the Vine rounded it off nicely!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

East Lothian

Whilst we were at our daughter  last week, we too the opportunity to explore around East Lothian and the nooks and crannies along the coast of the Firth of Forth. We had an interesting time exploring some of the villages, harbour and market towns. Of course we had our binoculars with us and the camera was always handy.

Dunbar turned out to be a favourite spot and looks like it would be a good place to do some birding, offshore there were Eider, Cormorant and Goldeneye, with Redshank, Oystercatcher and Dunlin showing on the shoreline,

We also stopped for a coffee just between Port Seton and Longniddry at the car park overlooking the sea at "Longniddry Bents 3" this again provided with Oystercatcher, Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank, Twite, Linnet and Turnstone on the shore, I was then 'forced' to get the scope out to check offshore discovering Black-necked Grebe, Eider and our favourite UK duck the Long-tailed Duck, awesome.

As we drove along the coast we came to Aberlady and OMG what a surprise that was, the bay and estuary (Peffer Burn) was heaving with birds; Thousands of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Redshank, Dunlin, Godwit, Goldeneye, Mallard, a few Pink-footed Geese, Curlew Teal, Wigeon, the weather was very dull and we parked on the road so no photos and we had somewhere else to visit so we had to move on, but we will be back and also have a wander around the Aberlady Nature Reserve, it looks fabulous.

Later on we had been to the market town of Haddington and as we left we were driving down a country lane and pulled over a because I needed to find out where we were and also Tina took the chance to do some messages whilst the car wasn't twisting and turning. While she was doing this I spotted some movement on the field about 100 yards away and saw a small flock of Yellowhammer!

This was shortly followed by Redwing and a perched Buzzard. So on the whole very productive and we weren't even birding!

Our Annual trip to the Highlands (Braemar) Days 5 and 6

Thursday was another poor weather day but we decided to take a risk and drive to the Muir of Dinnet and hope the weather wasn't too bad to stop up us going for a walk. Even though it was drizzling a bit we went for it on the basis that we could turn back. Of course with a circular walk its then hard to judge once you have gone past half way.

Thankfully it didn't rain too much so we made the circuit around Loch Kinord. Of course with the weather being so miserable again it was very quiet. The woods around the Loch were spectacular with loads of Fungi and Lichen covering everything, it looked like a fairy tale land.

The Loch was quiet with a few Mute Swan, Mallard, a couple of Rafts of Tufted Duck, some Goosander, but plenty of Goldeneye. Again the poor light made bird photography very difficult as you can see from this Goldeneye photo, although I quite like it!
We were teased by a couple of flocks of small birds that stayed high in the trees and wouldn't let us get close to identify them. We did get a quick flypast by a Buzzard over a nearby field, but that was about it. Still a brilliant if somewhat tiring walk in the cold and damp.

Now Friday our last full day looked a bit better weather wise, so I put it to the others that we go back to Kinnordy. It was a good decision as the weather was lovely. As we were driving there probably somewhere near Glenisla a bird of prey appeared and then disappeared on to the other side of the valley, but there was really no mistaking the white ring tail of a female Hen Harrier. I did stop the car but we quickly lost sight of it against the bracken on the other side of the Glen.

We arrived at Kinnordy in good sunshine, we had been the only people there on the Wednesday, but today there were a number of cars in the car park. So the hides were busy at first, but never the less we had some good sightings,
 Whooper Swans,
 Mute Swan,
 and Shoveler.

We wanted to visit Lintrathen again, so we went for a short visit, on the way back, this time we could actually see the other side of the Loch. There were tons of Wigeon here, quite a few Goldeneye, Black-headed and Herring Gulls, Cormorant and Mallard. But in among the ducks was a much smaller bird, at first I thought a Little Grebe, but it didn't look quite right, so put the scope on it and discovered our first ever Red-necked Grebe! In winter plumage of course but definitely a Red-necked. I took some very long range pics which we used to confirm it when back at the shack.

So that was the end to our winter highland adventure. A good time was had by all.

Although Tina and myself hadn't finished with Scotland, we were going to Edinburgh to stay with our daughter for a few days and do some non-birding exploring around Lothian, but of course we did see some birds and there will be a short post to follow, I'm sure.