Saturday, 24 January 2015

Bumble Hole

The other day we took a walk along our canal to Bumble Hole (Warrens Hall NR). It was a nice sunny day, but cold again, but that's the way we like it! Having seen Winterwatch this week we just wish that we were up in the Cairngorms too. But we are off to the Orkneys soon so we will end up driving through some fantastic views and snow. Anyway I digress, back to our walk out.

The Canal was frozen and quiet, just a few Mallard, Coot and Moorhen about foraging as best as possible in the few bits of open water.

A bit further on a Heron gave us a fly by:
We stopped for a coffee at a bench opposite one of the old canal basins and were treated to a few Long-tailed Tit feeding on some trees on the opposite side of the Canal, along with Blue and Great Tits.

We carried on to Bumble Hole itself and walked down to the viewing platform where we saw 8 Little Grebe keeping very much together, here are seven of them!
The only other birds of note on there were two male Tufted Duck:
We carried on walking fining a pair of Bullfinch but not much else, we eventually ended up on the same bench as before for another coffee before heading back down the canal and home. Whilst having our coffee though 2 Buzzards landed in the trees at the far end of the basin. So for the record:

Friday, 23 January 2015

Croome Park NT

Last Sunday we had a an afternoon out at Croome. It's a great walk with the backdrop of the Malvern Hills and even better it was a lovely sunny but cold day. There were plenty of birds about in the trees and on the lakes and river.

Our first encounter were Pied Wagtails in the car park, followed by a perched but distant Kestrel at our first coffee stop. We walked around the lake where of course the usual suspects were on the water; Mallard, Coot, Moorhen and Mute Swan, I was surprised though to see some Gadwall and Tufted Duck:

The surrounding trees revealed some Thrushes and Long Tailed Tit:

The Mute Swan had a couple of young, can't really call them Cygnets any more:
We left the formal parkland and headed across farmland towards the river, after a while we spotted a Kestel in its characteristic hover and then saw it plunge down and disappear behind a hedgerow. A few moment later it popped back up and headed for a dead tree where it settled. We approached carefully, never going directly towards it and of course not getting too close. We then saw it was having afternoon tea!

That was a real treat, I don't know who enjoyed it the most the Kestrel or us. We left the Kestrel to his lunch and walked on to the river, to find this Grey Heron in a tree:

So onto our next coffee stop a nice bench by a pool at the end of the river, before crossing and heading back. There we were treated to our first Grey Wagtail of the year, sadly no photo as it was chased off by two very aggressive Robins. We did see a mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare streaming by a few of which stopped for a breather in a tree the other side of the pond:

Not much to report on the way back, some more Heron, Redwing, Fieldfare and Corvids, but we did get a Buzzard in the fading light, again our first of the year!
The sun did make a final appearance as we were near the end of the walk:
Another great day out!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sandwell Valley Again!

Tina was taking her Mom to the Theatre this afternoon, so I went off to Sandwell Valley for a couple of hours, nothing much to add to the last visit apart from a Pintail and a few extra photos.

I did manage to get in the hide though, it was open so at least I could have a sit down in the warm, well not freezing, and have a coffee and a chat with the friendly Volunteers. So here are a few snaps from today, again the light wasn't great and it got murkier as the afternoon went on:
Tufted Duck:
 Grey Squirrel:
 Great Tit:


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Upton Warren 08/01

Our first visit to Upton this year was another late afternoon run out, we decided to just go to the Moors as we guessed there wouldn't be too much activity at the flashes.
We headed for the Lapwing hide which we thought initially was a mistake due to the low sun causing a glare that caused most birds to be in silhouette. It also meant very little chance of seeing any Snipe as we had to look directly into the sun. But the decision was vindicated when a Kingfisher turned up, of course it refused to use the branches placed for it in front of the hide and used the reeds instead out to the left, but it gave us a good show and stayed around for about 10 minutes, so one photo for the record:
Apart from the Kingfisher there were plenty of Teal, Shoveler and Lapwing on view and what seemed like a thousand Coot. A few Pochard were visible over towards the Cormorant perches. We made a move over to the Water Rail hide as the Sun was going down and of course as we entered the chap in there said we frightened a Water Rail off when we opened the door. That's life!!

We did see our first Reed Buntings of 2015 on the feeders so that was nice, I took a couple of standard Canada and Swan shots though just to prove we had been there:

Then in the fast fading light a Water Rail popped out and stayed visible for a while:
Not a great photo but another first for the year.
So all in all a good couple of hours before heading back up the M5!


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Sandwell Valley RSPB 06/01

Firstly Happy New Year to anyone reading this and a thank you to Mark Harrington in Cape Town who took us around the West Coast NP whilst we were there last year for spotting some errors on my photo labelling from that trip, I have corrected them now so pop down and check that post out again!

So our first birding walk of the year yesterday, due to a change in plans we had a couple of hours free and the weather was great so we popped to our closest reserve, Sandwell Valley, took us longer to get there than we thought the traffic was terrible, so we only ended up with an hour before the sun went down.

We walked around the Forge Mill lake and started the 2015 scoreboard rolling with some common stuff, Canada Geese, Black-headed Gulls, Mallard, Coot and Tufted Duck by the ramp. We walked on to the point opposite the hardly ever open hide and were rewarded with a large number of Snipe, of which these two were the closest:
Just to the right of these as we watched a flock of Lapwings land onto one of the pontoons:
We continued our walk discovering, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler

and Grey Heron along the way. We carried on to the Visitor Centre and the feeders and were surprised by the progress of the new centre, very encouraging. It's been a fair while since we have been over there, we do tend to neglect Sandwell Valley as it can be a bit of a pig to get to!

We  did find the feeders in their new location (by accident) as we stopped at one of the benches for a snack. There were plenty of tits and finches about with this pair of Bullfinches catching the last of the setting sun:

As we headed back to the car we found some Long-tailed Tit and had two Sparrowhawks fly over us. Our final sightings were a single Pochard and a number of Goosander, but sadly now much to dark for any snaps!

So off we go again, where to next, who knows!!