Thursday, 10 October 2013

Bittern-ly Disappointed at Upton Warren!

Stuck working on Tuesday and the weather was decent, then watching the forums, as you do, well I do anyway, I saw that a Bittern had turned up at Upton, so looked at my workloads and thought with a fair wind I could get done by 4, so checked with Tina to see if she was up for it,  as we haven't seen one so far this year and we had a plan!

So we got away and arrived at Upton about twenty to five, Sadly the Bittern wasn't aware of our plan and according to the others around it had disappeared into the reeds not to be seen again. We normally don't 'twitch' but as it's only 25 minutes away, it was worth taking a chance.

Luckily the Water Rail gave us some glimpses and two Kingfishers shot past, I didn't see them but everyone else did! I was trying to sort my camera out which was doing strange things, then packed up completely! Disaster.... as we are off to Costa Rica next week!

So back to birds, the usual was about on the Moors, with Shoveler and Little Grebe showing particularly well. A couple of Herons kept disturbing the Gulls so they were getting up en-mass quite a lot. The Cormorants were very active and a Kestrel did a fly by. We stayed a couple of hours until it was getting gloomy but the Bittern wasn't going to come out, so off home.

So no pictures to add to the post today, I took my camera into Halesowen and was told at least £150 as the Mirror control unit was bust! Plus time to order the parts, so no chance for getting it fixed by Wednesday next week. So as a new body wasn't that much more than the repairs, it had to be ordered, should have it Friday!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Another Stroll, this time Middleton Lakes...

I was thinking of doing some jobs around the house Saturday, but what the heck the sun was shining, so a snap decision was made and we thought we'd head over to Middleton for a couple hours on the afternoon, as we hadn't been since June and wanted to see what it was like now that the hide is done and the new screens are in place.

No wardens about so it was a good job I had made a note of the code to get in the new hide, but more about that later.

The feeders just past the Car Park were very quiet, ie nothing as we went past, most disappointing (people with noisy children and dogs about!) We saw and heard very little on the way to the reserve, just a Robin and a Great Tit that was it! We stopped for our first coffee at the platform off the path to the reserve, but apart from Mallard and Coot there was nothing much about apart from loads of splendid dragonflies:

Then a couple of Butterflies:

Once over the canal and out onto the reserve it perked up a bit; Mallard, Swan, Little Egret, Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Shoveler, some Gadwall. We decided to walk around anti clockwise and headed over to the old screen (looking decidedly tatty now) As we walked on we were slightly disappointed as to how high the grass and reeds were as being both fairly short we couldn't see a thing over the lakes, so headed over to the river which was deserted.

We then headed down to the first new screen (some sign post would be nice as there are 2 tracks we took the second and ended up in the roped off area adjacent to the screen) The screen gives good views and will be good a bit later in the winter I think. So onward, we went for Coffee number 2 at the picnic bench by the river view. All we added at this point was a Blue Tit! Was hoping for the Kingfisher that we saw here last time, but no luck.

So down to the hide, we let ourselves in and were immediately surprised by the size of it, you could have a party in there! The views are good and I think in the spring it will be excellent. So what about birds, well in addition to what we had already seen, we added Grey Heron, Cormorant, Greylag and Canada Geese, Great Crested Grebe, Shelduck, Wigeon and a Pintail (I think). We scanned for waders but couldn't find one! I did see one fly across but it landed behind some scrub never to be seen again! So as we were pushed for time (aren't we always) we carried on and were immediately rewarded with an obliging Wheatear:

These photo's bring me to another gripe about the revamped Middleton, the new fences, shocking if you'll pardon the pun. They are just plain unsightly and they are everywhere, not bird watcher friendly at all. I will go as strong to say as we hate them, surely there's a better option.

We headed back for a final stop at the screen overlooking the Jubilee Wetlands, again we searched for waders but with no luck, we had been hoping for Ruff, Sandpipers (especially Curlew Sandies) but despite being patient we couldn't find any. All we added were 10 Pheasants! 

So in summary we still feel that Middleton is very much a work in progress with lots of promise. We will see, probably pop over again in November.

Some record shots:

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A Stroll Around Hyde Park

After a very hectic few days in London (went to see the Mousetrap, Fleetwood Mac at the O2, a pub Crawl and a Comedy Club) we had a chilled out Sunday and went for a walk and a lovely lunch sitting by the Serpentine with a cheeky glass of wine in Hyde Park.

As we sat a Heron flew in just a few feet from us to add to all the Pigeons, Greylags, Canada Geese, Black Headed Gulls, Lesser Black Backs, Coots, Moorhens and Great Crested Grebes so a very pleasant time was had (the Thai Crab Salad was very nice too!)

After lunch we continued our stroll around the Serpentine and were surprised to come across some Egyptian Geese (7) including a couple of Juveniles. This was quickly followed by Mallard and a few Tufted Duck.

We then came across another cafe, so time for tea and a pastry. We sat at the waters edge again and added a Grey Wagtail to the tally.

So on with the walk and as you might expect we had a fleeting glimpse of a Ring-necked Parakeet, we could hear them most everywhere but they were difficult to spot in the tall trees among the greenery.

So apart from the usual birds you might find in a park we also added a few Cormorant. So having just gone for a walk in Central London (no camera or bins!) we clocked 21 species, not too shabby!

Finally on our drive back we came up the M40, so saw plenty of Red Kite around Wycombe/Oxford. We did notice though that the last one we saw was way past Banbury, so they do seem to be ranging farther north, so good news for us in the West Midlands, just need to add one to the garden list now !