Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Corngreaves Nature Reserve (Haden Hill)

Despite having out local park and natures reserve down as our local patch on this blog site, we have seriously neglected it for the past couple of years, thinking that we don't see much!

Well on a very busy Monday we took an hour out and went to the park, and what a brilliant hour we had. The weather wasn't too grim as it has been, so I hoped for some decent photo opportunities, if there was anything about, forgetting that the walk along the river is in the wood, so not a lot of light!

We entered the park, by the pool to see if there was anything interesting, we have seen Kingfisher and Goosander here in the past, but not today! Just Mallard, Black-headed Gull and a couple of Coot, strangely we didn't see any Moorhens.

From here we left the park and went into the small reserve, there were as you would expect the usual woodland birds, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Robin and Dunnock. But as we walked on we came across a couple of Treecreepers being 'frisky' one finally calming down to do some hunting:

This was followed by some Long-tail Tits right over our heads, so making for a poor photo,

Next up were two or three Goldcrests, trying to take a photo was nigh on impossible, they just wouldn't, as they don't, keep still! This is the best I could do,
Sadly the crest isn't on view.
Immediately after this we claimed our first Nuthatch of the year.
In between this we had a Buzzard sail through the trees, awesome.
We now had to turn back as time was short, lots to do. On the way back we saw the Treecreeper and Goldcrests again, then finally finishing up with a Chaffinch and a Bullfinch that allowed me one shot before departing,

We saw 19 species in an hour and had a great time, so we will definitely be visiting much more often.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Eymore Wood

On Friday we took the opportunity of some nice weather to go to Eymore Wood, unbelievably we haven't been over there since August 2014, so it was long overdue. We normally walk down to the reservoir first and circle around along the River Severn and back up through the woods, but we decide to live dangerously and go around the other way through the woods first.

We hoped there might be some Crossbills about, as we had seen them there before and I had seen a report of them earlier in the month. But it was very very quiet, it was about 20 minutes before we even saw a bird of any kind and that was of course a Robin, followed a bit later by a blackbird.

We found a fallen tree to use as a bench and had a coffee, we sat for a while and waited hoping to see anything, but only a some overflying Crows and Woodpigeon were seen. We thought that we might have seen a Falcon, but it was above the canopy and disappeared before the binoculars could be brought to bear.

We carried on down to the river, the paths were terrible, good job we had boots on, although our trousers were covered in mud by the end, walking was very difficult in places. Along the river we added a few Mallard and a solitary Moorhen. Thing livened up a bit as we left the wood and crossed the open area towards Trimpley Reservoir, seeing a number of Blue, Great and Coal Tit. We continued walking along the river and found the Mandarin Ducks. There was 11 of them tucked in under the trees on the far bank of the river. This didn't make for great photographs as it was very gloomy under the trees despite the lovely sunshine.

From here we scaled the reservoir embankment to find a bench for lunch. The top reservoir had a few Cormorant, Feral Pigeon and Black-headed Gulls. While we were having lunch a at least one Goldcrest put in an appearance in the conifers behind us, but that was a very fleeting view.

The lower reservoir had a number of Goosander, but by the time we walked down that way they had all departed. So we crossed the Severn Valley Railway line and climbed back up to the Car Park with only a Grey Squirrel adding to our sightings for the day, until a Song Thrush appeared on top of one of the pines.

So all in all a lovely if somewhat muddy walk, perhaps we will leave another visit until Spring and let the paths dry out a bit!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

A Wild Goose (Waxwing) Chase

We have been keeping an eye on Twitter and the Bird Forums to see if any Waxwings turn up close to us and while there have been some nearby sightings we have resisted motoring off to try and find them on the basis that they wouldn't be there when we got there.

However yesterday we succumbed as there had been regular reports of a flock of 100+ in Brownhills and they seemed to be hanging around. So with a two hour old report from Twitter we headed off on the 50 minute drive and despite the precise location being given there was nothing there! Except some Canada Goose and Mallard on the canal, we drove around a for a while scanning the trees in the neighbourhood thinking that a flock that size would be easy to find but nothing!

Then today on Twitter again see a flock in the same place now reported to be 140+. However Tina was out at the shops and I was doing work in the house, so no chance.

Anyway to make up for it we have been seeing a mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare at the end of our road. Tina phone me as she was coming home saying the flock was now huge, so I grabbed the camera and walked the 100 yards to the trees. Indeed this was by far the biggest flock we had seen.

Tina was scanning the birds with her bins (always in the car!), while I tried a few photos in the abysmal light, when she said excitedly there's a Waxwing, incredulously there was! A single Waxwing among all the thrushes.

So here are few very poor snaps (bearing in mind the weather and that it was getting dark!),
A Redwing,
 but the star.........

Sunday, 15 January 2017

A Brilliant Start to the Kinver Year

On Thursday we went to Kinver again for a good walk along the canal and river before a lovely late lunch and a cheeky pint of ale at the Vine. (Tina had a cheeky Pinot!)

We headed in the Whittington direction from the Vine, in the hope that we might see the alleged Yellow-browed Warbler, I have seen photos of the bird on Bird Guides, but I suppose because it was a tad windy it was staying well hidden. Perhaps another time if it sticks around a bit longer.

Having said that we did see the most speices we have ever seen in a single walk, twenty five. I know that's not a lot by reserve standards, but I think that's pretty good for a country walk.

We started with as usual a great Buzzard encounter,

While at one of our coffee stops a friendly Robin came to us,
Even though we didn't see the Warbler at Whittington we did get a Green Woodpecker,
and Goosander,
Around Whittington and the sewage works we also saw a number of Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit and this Great-spotted Woodpecker,
along with some Fieldfare and a Mistle Thrush and of course an obligatory Grey Heron, who was stood on the river bank and an hour later when we came back he hadn't moved!
The rest of the twenty five was mad up of the usual suspects, Mallard, Crow, Blackbird, Tits and our first Jay of the year.

As Wallace would say a 'Grand Day Out'

Friday, 6 January 2017

First visit to Sandwell Valley this year

Only 6 days in to the year and I'm already four days behind with this post, too busy putting the house back to normal after Christmas and the New Year.

So on Monday we managed to nip out for a couple of hours down to the Valley, we decided to have a walk around Swan Pool and up into Priory Woods for a change instead of Forge Mill and the RSPB Reserve. Quite forgot the Baggies were at home, but thankfully the Birmingham Road was clear as it was only a couple of minutes to kick off as we went by.#

We were rewarded for this change by a pair of Goldeneye on the pool, our first sighting was too far for a photo, so we walked on round to get closer, then I couldn't find them! But birds being birds they had now moved further away. I eventually found the female again so took a distant shot for the record:
However a pair of Little Grebe were a bit more obliging,
Other birds on the pool were, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Wigeon and of course Coot and Moorhen.

We continued our walk into Priory Woods and around the Ice House and Cascade Pools, (only know these names because I have just looked on Sandwell's website for a map of the area!) We had hoped to see some woodland birds but only saw a few Blackbirds. As usual we found a bench (opposite the Cascade Pool that was mostly frozen) and stopped for our obligatory coffee.

The pool hood a a few Tufted Duck, Coot and Moorhen, but that was all apart from some Crows and a flyover by a Grey Heron, that took up residence quite high in one of the trees opposite.

We continued our walk past the Ice House Pool, where a number of Goosander were about, again a record shot as the light was fading fast,
so as the light was going and the temperature was dropping with the Sun we headed back to the car.

One word of caution if you haven't been to the Valley for a while, Sandwell Council have now implemented charges for parking, it's not expensive, just annoying!

Anyway another 6 species added to the list for the year.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Up and running for 2017!

So a new year and the birding clock was set back to zero, so a New Years Day afternoon was called for at Upton. It was a rather dismal wet day, our original plan had been for a walk along the canal at Kinver again with a nice baguette at the Vine, but firstly the as I said the weather wasn't conducive to walking without any shelter and we discovered that the Vine was only doing a carvery and with the excesses of Christmas we weren't up for that. So Upton it was.

We opted to go the Moors as that would mean the shortest amount of walking in the rain.

As you can imagine it was fairly quiet, I think all the birds were sleeping of their New Year hangovers. Though seen from the Lapwing Hide some Snipe did appear some distance away:
This Gadwall and Mallards had the right idea with the weather,
just tuck up and keep warm.
There were plenty of Shoveler, Pochard and Tufted Duck about along with a solitary Shelduck. We spent an hour or so here then wandered over to the Water Rail hide and did indeed get a glimpse of a Water Rail. The feeders to the right proved productive with Greenfinch,
Reed Bunting,
Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin and Tits showing well, although I gave up on photography as the light was now terrible. we tried the Jacons hide as well just in case any Otters put in an appearance but with the light going we gave up and having had a late night, we were tired and cold. So our first birding afternoon of the year gave us a decent start for our 2017 tally with 35 species.