Saturday, 31 March 2012

Haden Hill Revisited!

We managed to spend an hour or so at Haden Hill this afternoon in the hope of Tina seeing the Goldcrest. But no luck, the Nuthatches had disappeared as well, it was a very dull and chilly afternoon, perhaps it was that. A very meagre list:
Mallard, Moorhen, Canada Goose, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbird, Starling, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Bullfinch, Long Tailed Tit, Wren, Crow, Robin. We heard a Chiff Chaff and a Woodpecker but couldn't find them.
So we'll just have to try again when the weather is a bit brighter and warmer!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Haden Hill 29/03

After being stuck in the house, I managed to get out at lunch time and have a walk through Haden Hill and and Corngreaves NR. The weather was fabulous and the bird song was amazing, but as always when walking through trees its finding them!

The pools are pretty empty now, all the Gulls have gone, so all that was on the lower pool were Mallards

and a couple of Canada Geese who have decided to nest. Not even a sign of a coot or moorhen!

So on past the pool and into Corngreaves..
First sighting were a few Nuthatches, quite high up but a decent view:
I watched them for a while then spotted one disappearing into one of the trees, so looks like a nest as he/she was constantly going in and out.
So after that carried on along the path by the river, lots of Blue and Great Tits about as well as the usual Magpies and Woodpigeons, however I did come across a pair of Stock Doves so that was a first for the year.

As I went further along a small bird flew across the path and landed in a bush about 10 feet away, so stopped and got the bins on him thinking it was a Blue Tit, but much to my delight it was a Goldcrest. (No photo missed him!) Now believe it or not this is a first, it's one of those birds that has eluded us. However I'm not adding it to the totals as Tina still hasn't seen it.. Them's the rules! (We might get time Saturday to get down there for an hour, but we have a busy weekend planned so who knows)

Just after this I heard a Robin singing his little heart out and he obligingly posed for a while:

Multi Tasking! Singing and Scratching!
So headed on added Blackbird, Song Thrush, Jackdaw, Crow, Rook, nothing to exciting.
As I was coming up through the last part of the NR before back into the park spotted another 3 Nuthatches, then a Jay on the ground, trying to hide from me! But managed a photo:
Of course lots of butterflies about, none of whom would pose apart from this Peacock:

So that was it, walked back via the canal, where I did see the missing Coots and Moorhens (as well as more Mallard & Canada Geese) and one last Robin who wanted his photo taken (He told me!)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Sandwell Valley 25/03

Well the weather was just to nice, so we had to pop out for a quick spin around the RSPB reserve at Sandwell Valley. We didn't stop long as we had other things to do. Again the weather was great and again the sunshine had brought loads of people out cycling and walking (wonder where they all are when its freezing and wet, like most sensible people tucked up by the fire.)

So what was to see:

Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Cormorant, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Rook, Canada Goose, Gadwall, Goosander (2), Mallard, Mute Swan, Pochard, Shoveler (2), Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Grey Heron, Robin, Oystercatcher (2), Woodpigeon, Lapwing, Coot, Moorhen, Redshank (1), Bullfinch and Starling.
The Redshank was the surprise we hadn't expected to see that, I have added a photo , not great quality as he was fairly distant from the hide and its hard to keep the camera still with my dodgy shoulder:
The pair of Oystercatchers were nice to see, they appear to be nesting on the island in front of the hide. The 30 or so Lapwings were giving good displays. They are one of my favourite birds (of many!) they always look magnificent and are a real pleasure to watch flying.
We were hoping to see the Snipe again, but with the influx of some of the other birds, they apparently have moved off the island into the marsh, so we will have to see if they are about still about at Upton.

Eymore Wood 24/03

We managed a quick trip down to Eymore on Saturday, this was the first time I had driven since my Skiing mishap, thankfully we have an automatic, so no gear changing.
The weather was glorious lots of people about, especially with noisy dogs, shouldn't be allowed when you are trying to find birds in the trees! Only joking. We hoped to see Goldcrests and of course always looking for our first English Crossbills, but drew a blank on both counts! We did see our first Chiffchaff of the year in the trees between the reservoir and the river, he was 'Chiff-Chaffing' beautifully! There were a pair of Great Crested Grebes on the first lake by the railway crossing, who displayed briefly, but the majority of the time they were diving.
Apart from those our full list:

Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Canada Goose, Goosander, Mallard,

Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Robin, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Coot, Goldfinch, Siskin, Blackbird and Pied Wagtail.
Oh and add some boats, steam engine and a frog or two!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

There's Always a Sunnyside!

Well, we are back from Italy, I have been to Hospital and my shoulder isn't as bad as the Italian doctors made out. There are no broken bones "just" snapped ligaments which will heal given time. So back to work tomorrow.

Now for the Sunnyside.... As I was not able to ski on the last two days and my legs were intact I had arranged to go out and get the cable car up the mountain and meet Tina & Jo for lunch up the top. So I set out early with my mini bins and digital bridge camera for the 20 minute walk from the hotel up to the cable car. I had only been walking a few minutes when........

Yes after driving to Scotland to various 'guaranteed' Crossbill sites, visiting  Eymore Woods etc. Purely by accident there they were. For two days on the trot, this is a photo from the second time. I even took Tina and Jo later on, on the Saturday and they were still about, but not as close. So if I hadn't done my shoulder, I wouldn't have got the Crossbills. Having said that I think I would swap the pain for no Crossbills!!

So what else: I have identified the mystery bird from my previous post, a Nutcracker, lifer no 1 for the trip.

The swift we saw was an ordinary swift as it was all black, Alpine have a white belly, I can only think this was passing through the Alps on its way north for Spring as we never saw any more swifts. The martins were House Martins as we saw these daily and got good sightings.

On the way home on Sunday, Tina spotted a crow with a yellow beak, so that must be an Alpine Chough. So lifer No 2.
Down in the Aosta Valley on the way to Turin Airport a Great White Egret was spotted in a field near the river.

Now its get my shoulder healed and sorted so we can spend some time in Somerset next month.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Pila Italy

Well here I am sitting in the hotel with a broken clavicle! Happened on day 4, just a silly tumble but came down heavily on my left shoulder. Got a ride on a Police skidoo with blue lights and siren to the nearest cable car, not quite worth it but, a bit of fun out of something that is now really painful. The doc says I will have to have it pinned when I get back to the UK. So A&E on Monday.

On the birding front we are at 6000 feet so few birds around, although we can here plenty when we are on the chairlifts in trees around us. We did spot some Crested Tits on one of our runs, have also seen Raven, a wood pecker but couldn't identify it. Around the hotel, I am surprised to see Swift and Martins, considering the snow although the weather is fabulous with temperatures up at 14 in Pila.

I have seen a bird I can't identify, so if anyone can help, (left the field guide at home!) it was slightly larger than a blackbird, black, with a white rump and white tips on tail was in the pines at about 7000 ft.

That'll do for now

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Tufted Duck and Eurofighter Typhoon

Went for a walk again lunch time and in a moment of madness carried on all the way to Merry Hill and collected my lens from Jessops. Hurrah!

This entailed walking along the canal from Old Hill, through Netherton, past Netherton Reservoir, down the Through Saltwells LNR and out the otherside at Merry Hill. Was walking at a pace so didnt have much time to look around.
Huge numbers of Canada Geese along the route, these all seem to be pairing off and making lots of noise. Anyway picked my lens up and headed back, allowed myself a few moments at the reservoir to look for the Great Crested Grebe, couldn't see it any where, but was surprised by a solitary Tufted Duck amongst the Black Headed and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, then a thunderous roar as an RAF Eurofighter came in low from over Dudley. In addition to Birding I'm also a bit of an aeroplane nut! So was well pleased if somewhat puzzled as the Eurofighter hung around. I could hear it all the way home, circling Dudley! Actually whilst I was out yesterday, I could hear a low flying high performance jet, so I guess it was doing it yesterday as well.

Apart from that just the usual along the canal.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Not much.....but......

As we were going up to visit family in Cheshire for a do on Sunday evening, we had toyed with the idea of going to Martin Mere, but when we saw the weather, we decided to give it a miss.

We arrived at our Nieces late afternoon for a cuppa before going out for a meal in Holmes Chapel. As the do was for our fellow birder and my sister in law Jo, we naturally got down to talking birds. Our niece (Jo's daughter, hope you are keeping up with this) then piped in about the starlings over Holmes Chapel in the evening and that we should see them on the way to the pub.

So when we set out there they were, this video is from my phone (which doesn't have much of a camera):

Today I managed to fit a 20 minute walk in at lunch just down to the canal and the Powke Lane POS, just to see what was about, the weather was glorious and the birds were in good voice. Nothing exciting but the singing was tremendous. Seen were:
Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Magpie and Woodpigeon. Down at the canal, just 2 Canada Geese and some Black Headed Gulls whirling around. Not a Mallard, Coot or Moorhen to be seen!

But a big bonus was a vixen who walked calmly past me in the copse just at the end of our road, not more than 10 feet away, she wasn't bothered by me one bit!

Oh and some good news! My 300mm lens is back and waiting to be collected from Jessops!