Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Sandwell Valley Sunday

We popped out whilst the sun was shining on Sunday afternoon, Tina hadn't been well since our trip to London and we kept the jaunt out short so as not to hinder recovery.

We decided unusually to start from the Visitor Center car park (normally we park at Forge Mill). So we had a quick look on the feeders by the old center. Not much about, a few tits and a pair of Bullfinches which is always nice, so we preceded down to the hide for our obligatory coffee stop.

The screens on the way down weren't worth stopping at as there was a work party clearing and burning just down from the screen. Once in the hide, first priority was coffee then have a look around. The island in from of the hide wass very quiet, just a solitary Lapwing:
A few goldfinches were scooting around, then a pair of Goosander sailed in front of the hide, typically at this point the sun had gone in and there was a bit of rain about:
I then spotted a couple of Snipe flying in and landing on the shore to the left of the hide, we then had a fun 15 minutes trying to get the others in the hide to find them as there were few reference points (to the right of the bright green leaf brought a few smiles!)

Other than that from the hide were some Wigeon, Teal, Coot, Moorhen, a single Gadwall and Gadwall, some spotted a Goldeneye, but we couldn't find it. so we decided to walk around and see if we could see it.

Just a bit around from the hide some Wigeon were gathered on the remaining ice:
On we went around the Lake we added more Gadwall and some Shoveler. There was next to no activity in the trees, just the usual, Blackbirds, Magpies, Woodpigeons, Crows, and Robins.

Once at the ramp at Forge Mill Car Park, we could see that there must have been 30-40 Goosander, probably the most we have seen in one go, we added some Pochard,Tufted Duck, and a Little Grebe, as well as Mute Swan, Canada Geese, BHG, LBBG and a Herring Gull, but no sign of the Goldeneye. The hybrid duck from last year was also still about.

So we continued the walk and had a last coffee at the bench directly opposite the hide, the only addition to our list was a Wren:
So onward back to the Car and one last look at the Feeder, this provided Marsh Tit bringing the 90 minute total to 29 and 59 for the year.

So probably no post now for a while as we are off to Scotland next week. But whill post all the details when we get back, with hopefully sightings of Crested Tit, Crossbill, Red Squirrel, Red Deer, Grouse, Dippers, Mountain Hares etc. Fingers Crossed!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Much Ado ........

We were down in London the weekend visiting 'the Lad' so the plan was to drop into Rainham Marshes on the way home yesterday, plus a walk through Victoria Park and Canal (Tower Hamlets) on the Saturday en-route to Broadway Market.

The Park/Canal walk went as planned although very cold, the Park yielded, Greylag & Canada Goose, Mallard, a couple of Tufties, BHG, Coot and Moorhen, plus Woodpigeon, Magpie, Crow and Blackbird, adding Mute Swan, Cormorant, Chaffinch and House Sparrow along the Canal, then lots of tasty things to try at the Market.

Looked at the weather on Sunday morning and decided not to risk Rainham, it wasn't the birding that was the issue, it was getting home, so after a brunch we headed back, so that we could get home before dark.

Today has been interesting, made sure there was plenty of food in the Garden, so all our usuals were looked after, but was stunned to see a Reed Bunting on the feeders, so they must be ranging far and wide for food. I have never even seen one on the local canal, where there are plenty of Reeds and suitable habitat. Well a first for the Garden, sadly couldn't get the camera out before he (it was a male) had headed off.

Might head for a walk tomorrow either to Haden Hill or Warrens Hall weather and work permitting!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Upton 'Snipe' Warren

Went down to Upton on Sunday afternoon for our first visit this year, the car park over at the Moors was very busy, so we expected the hides to be rammed but was surprised to get settled down in the concrete hide.

Within a few minute we had a brief glimpse of a Water Rail, but he dissapeared into the reeds, he came out again and raced across the shoreline in front of the hide, I managed to get a couple of hasty shots, of which this is probably the best:

The entertainment continued with a 'tree' rat:
and some frightened Black Headed Gulls.........
.......... because of this attack by a Lesser Black Backed Gull:
The feeding station to the right of the hide was very busy with Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit, Reed Buntings Galore, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Dunnock and a lovely female Pheasant. The Moors had of course Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, many Cormorant, BHG, LBBG, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe. For the small bird pics go to the galleries (Upton Warren 2013)

We left the hide and headed over to the other side via the very muddy path around the pool by the car park hoping to see the Siskin and Redpoll but we had left it to late. So we settled down in the West Hide, we were astonished by all the Snipe just in front of the hide, it was only in 2011 that we were still struggling to see a Snipe and got our first over at Sandwell Valley, I lost count near the 40 mark, on the Bird Forum the count went up to 83! So I better put a least one photo up:
Plus a Jack Snipe trying to hide: (the light wasn't good now, sorry!)
So apart from adding the Snipe over this side, we also added Teal, Shelduck, Lapwing, Grey Heron and our second Water Rail of the day, couldn't find the Black Tailed Godwit though. Never mind still a great couple of hours (32 Species recorded)

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Marshside Southport - New Years Day

Firstly Happy New Year to everyone and good hunting for 2013!

We celebrated New Years Eve up in Cheshire at Jo & Jimmy's, so had the bonus of their busy back Garden on New Years day to start the 2013 list before heading off to Southport to take our first look at Marshside RSPB

Firstly as I think I may have mentioned before Jo & Jimmy live on the River Weaver near Winsford and get a good variety of Birds visiting the Garden and swimming by the front window although the river was very quiet on New Years Day with just Moorhen, Mallard and a few BHGs flying around.

The garden was much better with 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers in at the same time, a Jay, Long Tailed, Great, Blue and Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Magpie and of course Woodpigeon.
I managed a few photos of some of the visitors through the windows:

So on to Marshside, an unusual but nice reserve with a very friendly member of Staff  at the Visitor Center.
The reserve runs along the coast road not far out of Southport going north, There is a free RSPB car park on this Road, which is the center point of the reserve. We parked up and walked back along the road past a couple of screens about 600m to the Nel's Hide, there was a good amount of duck and other waterfowl about, so a nice start to the New Year: (the light was going so not many photo's)

Sp as you can see lots of lovely Pintail (30+) about, plus Teal, Pochard, Wigeon, Shelduck, Shoveler, Curlew, Snipe, Moorhen, Canada Geese, Lapwing, Bar Tailed Godwit, Little Egret (10+) and Pink Footed flying over.
Someone asked us in this hide if we had seen the Spoonbill, which was a surprise to us, so after a while we wandered back down to the visitor centre. (About 300m the other side  of the car park)

The light was really bad now, but for the record:

He later became active, walking about and showing off 'the spoon' really well, he then took off and flew straight over the hide, brilliant!
So with some Coot and Little Grebe and the start at Winsford it brought our days tally to 37, two less than last years New Years Day when we went to Middleton Lakes, but to have a Spoonbill on the first day of the year is a great start.