Monday, 27 January 2014

Charlecote Park

Decided to go for a change this weekend and take opportunity of what was forecasted to be the only semi-decent weather on Saturday and went for a walk around the estate of Charlecote Park (National Trust)

We drove down the M40 in sunshine and parked up at Charlecote, but by the time we were on the estate the weather was already turning but what the heck! We're 'hard' we can take it!

Setting off down the drive we were immediately greeted by some Fallow Deer Bucks having a chill out:
We continued down the drive and to the house where we stopped for our first coffee stop overlooking the river before venturing out. We have never see the river this high, but that's not surprising considering our current weather. So suitably refreshed and after making a purchase in the NT Shop we set out into what was now a pretty gloomy landscape. Underfoot was decidedly boggy but onwards.........

Our first bird sighting was a large flock of Redwings flitting from tree to tree as we approached, never letting us get close. so this is the best I could manage:
We walked around the edge of the estate up to the Jacob's Sheep that were being kept separate from the rest over the other side of the park:
Our next bird encounter was a Great Spotted Woodpecker showing quite well:
Then within a minute a Green Woodpecker:
We were just trying to get a bit closer using the surrounding trees as cover, but didn't get chance as it was spooked by this Buzzard:
Never mind.... So onwards, the weather was looking more threatening as we went on, so we took a small shortcut to an old avenue of trees where there was bit of shelter and plenty of Deer too. It was a good job we did as moments later a thunder storm with hail hit. I know trees aren't the best place to shelter in a storm but there were lots of them, so to be hit would be extremely unlucky!  We stayed pretty dry under there and waited until the storm had passed, so took a few more photos of Deer whilst were sheltering and having another coffee of course!

Another (or same!) Green Woodpecker turned up in the distance
So once the hail and lightning stopped we headed back to the house for a comfort stop. The weather then brightened up so instead of heading back to the car we did the other side of the estate instead!

We picked up some overflying Cormorant and a solitary Fieldfare before another Buzzard (same again perhaps) put in an appearance:
Nothing much after that, stopped for a cup of tea under the large parasols by the tea room and we were entertained by a Robin or two:
and a perched Kestrel some distance away:
A cracking afternoon out!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Diver at Sandwell Valley

At the second attempt we managed brief glimpses of the Juvenile Great Northern Diver at Swan Pool in the Valley. Unfortunately due to work it was a flying (what a nuisance that is... but not for long!) and getting dark, but after searching we found it right in the middle of the pool. It only stayed on the surface for moments at a time, so with the bad light I didn't even get a record shot.

One bonus was a Juvenile Goldeneye on the pool, to add another to our year list, 62 so far so not shabby!

We have a flying visit to the Cairngorms coming up at the end of the month (thank you Groupon!) so hopefully we will add Crested Tit, Snow Bunting, Red Grouse for certain (as we know where to find them) then on the wish list, Dipper, Golden Eagle, Black Grouse and Ptarmigan. We shall see!

Anyway back to Swan Pool, we did the circuit, but it was quite windy, cold and the rain was starting so we didn't hang around too long, we lost sight of the GND and couldn't find it again!
There were plenty of Cormorants and Gulls about:
A single Pochard was amongst the Mallard, Coots, Canada Geese, Mute Swan and Tufted Ducks:
Except he just wouldn't turn and face me!
Quite a few Great Crested Grebe about:
A couple of Jays also flew across in front of us which was nice, so all in all not a bad tally for a 30 minute walk!


Monday, 20 January 2014

A Great Walk, but..........

Looking at the weather forecast, Sunday was looking good, so we went to the flicks Saturday afternoon and off to the Wyre Forest on Sunday looking for Crossbills and the Two-Barred in particular. Using the info from the Bird Forum and Worcestershire Birding I printed off a map of where the Two-Barred Crossbills were last seen.

We parked up and headed off into the forest, the conditions underfoot were terrible, glad we had boots and gaiters, it was really hard work in places on the bridleways. We eventually go up to the clear area at Postensplain and saw absolutely nothing! We decided to be patient and have a coffee and wait but apart from another chap searching for Crossbills who we had a chat to that was it. We did however here a Goshawk calling, just couldn't find it though. We did see some Woodpigeon and a Robin or two and whilst walking up there though we definitely heard Crossbills in the trees but couldn't find them. Oh well that's life, we headed back down following the clearing for the electricity cables all the way done back to one of the tracks and had fun scrambling over brooks and down embankments! As we got to the bottom we heard a Goshawk again but it refused to show. Eventually got back to the car, via another coffee stop, covered in mud but had a good time.

We then popped over to Eymore Wood before dark on the way back home, just for a Cuppa and on the off chance that there might be something about. Again very little about but we did get our first Song Thrush of the year, so that was good.

When we got home looked on the the West Midlands Sightings for the day and looks like we missed the Two-barred Crossbills up at Postenplains by about an hour! Oh well let's see what next weekend brings and perhaps this time I will put my memory card in the camera instead of leaving it in the slot of our PC! Hence the distinct lack of photos on this blog!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Soggy Upton Warren

On Sunday for the first time ever I went to Upton on my own! Tina was going to the Theatre in Bromsgrove with her Mom and I was meeting afterwards for some fittle!

I decided just to go to the Moors as the weather was horrible, keeps the walking in that muck down to a minimum. Tried the short path to the two hides first and decided to go upstairs.

The feedeers here were quite busy with; Bullfinch, Greenfich, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Reed Bunting, Robin, Mallard, Moorhen and a Rat!

But what wind there was was blowing the drizzle straight in the hide so I set off to the East Hide, picking up some Lesser Redpoll on the way:
It was a large group of Redpoll, but I couldn't pick out the reported Mealy Redpoll in the murk!

So from the East hide the Snipe ca40 were displaying really well, but no sign of a  Jack Snipe:
There were some Curlew about as well, that kept coming and going, the most I counted at any one time was 10:

Plenty of Shoveler about too:
and Cormorants:
and Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, BHG, Lesser Black-backed Gull, a single Common Gull, a few Starling coming in to roost at dusk, but sadly the Bittern didn't show (again)

In future if we are coming to Upton, I'll let people know, because when we come the Bittern stays in hiding!

Aqualate Mere

When we saw the weather was so good Saturday, the question was where to go?

I was going to Upton Sunday, so having seen that Aqualate Mere had had a few rarities and it's a nice walk we headed up the M6/M54, we got there about 1:30 and set off through the mud to the hide, but disaster! The water was above boot height on the boardwalk to the hide and we hadn't brought our wellies! We did try but it was no good. Unfortunately from the limited views to be had, only  Coot, Mallard, Tufties and Mute Swan were revealed. This is the one drawback with Aqualate if you can't get in the hide there is no where else with views onto the water or shores.Unless of course you know the owner of the private estate!

So we went for a walk through the woods, seeing.......... nothing apart from a couple of Robins.

We returned and sat on the only bench for a snack and coffee and waited.. We were rewarded with some Fieldfare foraging amongst the trees some distance behind us, a perched Buzzard,

a spectacular sunset:

A large flock of Long-tailed Tits visited in the trees right behind us and some Canada Geese did a fly by:
We waited as Aqualate is known for murmarations, but had anyone told the starlings. Well kind of! They arrived in their thousands but didn't display the just went straight over the trees and into the reeds.
Still amazing!

So if you go to Aqualate.... take your wellies!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Sandwell Valley... at Dusk

We managed to pop over to SV for an hour just before dusk in the hope that the GN Diver was still about, but no sign of it. Talking to a couple of RSPB chaps, it had been on Swan Pool that morning but they hadn't seen it since. Never mind, just would have been nice to see one around here. Just have to wait until we go to Mull in May.

Did the loop around the reserve. There were a large number of Goosander about 20+ so that was nice. Lots of Gadwall and Lapwing down the RSPB end and some Pochard hiding under the overhanging trees. Other than those it was the usual suspects on the Forge Mill lake. (Canada Geese, BHGs, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard and Tufted Duck)

Counted 7 Bullfinch on the bushes around the feeder, amongst loads of Blue and Great Tit and the odd Chaffinch. Saw very little as we walked around, fleeting glimpse of a Jay and other woodland usuals, we didn't dawdle though as the clouds were gathering and the wind was definitely up! The visit did bring the year count up to 45.

Be nice to have some nice weather for strolling around, getting a bit fed up of the wind and rain now!


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy New Mere!

Sorry for the awful title........

But, Happy New Year to All.

We brought in the New Year at Tina's sisters up in Cheshire by the river Weaver at Winsford, so after the festivities we woke up late to a very soggy morning, the plan being to pop up to Burton Mere (hence the title of the post!)

Firstly Jo's garden is always worth watching, so we started off the 2014 list with the usual garden suspects, plus a Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and some Mallard who were jumping up onto the bird table!

So after a hearty breakfast and consulting the weather forecast, it looked like we might have a couple of dry hours between 2 and 4, so we staggered out to the car with all the bad weather gear, flasks of coffee etc. Looked like we were actually heading for the Arctic!

We arrived at Burton about 2ish to a very dismal and bleak scene. A warm welcome was had though from the RSPB staff and the roaring fire in the visitor centre was welcome (Although, I think I have said this on our last visit, having come in from a miserable and cold outdoors all the optics steam up!!)

So we added Tufted Duck, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Shelduck, Lapwing and a Black Tailed Godwit which was very nice. There was Little Stint about but it had moved into the soggy fields and didn't show whilst we were there. After a coffee we wandered down to the hide, but only added a Little Egret, Buzzard and a Pheasant.

On return to the visitor center we had a little excitement with a Merlin sitting on a fence post, excellent!
We then thought that we'd drive around to the far hide before dark to see any birds coming in to roost, but the wardens had already locked the gate! Well I suppose it was New Years Day and they wanted to get home, so I'll let them off! So instead we continued down to Burton Marsh where the Buff-bellied Pipit twitchers were arrayed in large numbers, but packing up as the light was fading fast and the rain was just about to set in again. Did we see the pipit..... what do you think!

I haven't posted any photo's from Burton as the light was terrible and none are worth putting on the blog.