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Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012, Year of the Dragonfly (and happy blog birthday)

Doorstep Birding is a year old today, and it seems fitting this is the 100th and final  post of 2012. It's been a year of rain, poor for bird passage,and  Lepidoptera . I am grateful for what I have seen and had a good few birding, moth and butterfly highlights. Thankfully too, another species group has really made my nature year.
 I set out this year with an increasing interest in Odonata, and my first goal was to see as many of the species that occurred locally to me.
This turned out to be a most enjoyable quest and mini challenge to which I couldn't help notch it up a peg by trying to photograph every species I saw also, especially all the Worcestershire (VC37) species..
It started on a parky Bank Holiday Saturday in the Wyre on the 5th May, with the Zygoptera (damselflies) , a Large Red Damselfly, and continued over that weekend with Beautiful Demoiselle next day at Upton Warren, and Banded Demoiselle there on the 12th.

Having been well and truly bitten by the Dragonfly 'bug' (they don't actually bite or sting ) I had arranged to visit a specialist site in Staffordshire on the 26th May, Chartley Moss. Emergence was a bit behind now, but fortunately the target species, White-faced Darter was seen, though they were still a bit teneral. I also saw my first Four- spotted Chaser ever and added Broad-bodied Chaser to the year list. I only managed to photograph one of these species, but thankfully it was the Darter, the others could wait and made up my VC37 challenge.

June was 'the' month in retrospect ! The biggy 'target' at the start of the month was Common Club-tail, not as common or particularly easy as it's name may suggest. However, towards the end of my second attempt, on what turned out to be a magnificent Bank Holiday Monday, I spied upon my one and only of the year, down on the slippery banks of the River Severn. During my search, I had also come across Common Blue, Blue-tailed and White-legged DamselfliesAzure Damselfly was the one highlight of an Upton outing two day's previously  so despite the poor weather, I was motoring on nicely at the end  Bank Holiday Monday morning.

 However things went from superb to brilliant when responding to a text from a local birder, I went to try and twitch a sighting of a dragonfly vagrant that warm sunny afternoon. Down at Grimley, I had my first of a few encounters with Red-veined Darter, a pretty rare beast in Worcs.

The following Saturday, it was relatively warm and rain free, and I found myself mooching down in the Wyre, ostensibly trying to catch up on the poor Fritillary Butterflies that had been so rain affected and hard to come by. It was here I had one of my most satisfying and rewarding encounters of the year, when I spotted a large determined looking dragonfly enter the clearing and settle. Tracking it down I was awestruck to see a stunning Golden-ringed Dragonfly obligingly resting up, a female.

Scarce Chasers were a surprise package of the year, turning up well away from their usual stronghold, with a population found by JK ,saving me much fuel having to go hunting them down. Along with them, Large Re-eyed Damselfly was seen for the first time by me on the same day, a very good day in which I also observed Black-tailed Skimmers at a separate site.

At this point I went off to America for a few days, but even in the heart of the New York metropolis, I managed to see  two species, one remains to be identified during the coming winter nights, but I have managed to ID, I think, the tiny Eastern Amberwing seen at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.
Back to Blighty and June held two more species for the year, Common Darter was always a given, but Emperor was most pleasing, with a record shot to keep the challenge alive.
The next worry was Emerald Damselfly.I believe they had been scarce locally the previous year, and the pools I was hoping to nab them at were dried out the previous year. They overwinter as and egg, and conveniently can withstand desiccation  Anyway, this year they appeared, and I was pipped to the post by an hour or two by fellow nature nerd JK one Saturday who phoned to advise me he had seen them, just as I was approaching the site !
The following day, 8th July at Upton I had a unexpected surprise, stumbling upon a perched up fresh Brown Hawker. It was nice and settled, and with this in the bag, there were only two species I was worried I may not see, Small Red-eyed Damselfly and Common Hawker, but it was too early to worry about the" tricky 2" they probably hadn't emerged yet ! In the meantime I added Southern Hawker on the 21st, and enjoyed what was about, studying the jizz and getting better pictures where possible of what was about.
By the 10th August I had seen and photographed Ruddy Darter and Migrant Hawker. I had all the Worcs species now bar the " tricky 2", and it suited me I had seen them all withing the ethos of the 'doorstep'  as well, my sort of 20 mile radius of home. I wasn't even sure if Common Hawker had been seen, it's not at all common, infact I think it has only been sighted in 1 10 km in Worcs during the current survey. Anyway, I did one slightly off doorstep trip to Croome Park for a gratuitous tick of Small Red-eyed Damselfly, it was a place worth a once over, and I picked up Brown Argus and Common Blues which had been so rare this year.

So that was it for Worcestershire Dragonflies and me, 23 species seen and photographed, plus the White- faced Darter in Staffs, I was more than pleased.
I was even more pleased, when on the 15th September, whilst at Titterstone Clee birding, I saw and recorded Common Darter !

 A couple of days away in Seville and a visit to the Alcazar, I was hoping I might see something there, and  I saw a couple of stunners, Orange-winged Dropwing, and Violet Dropwing
It's been a great Dragonfly year, I hope to do it all again in 2013, and possibly add a couple of  species if conditions prevail. I also hope to study more of the life cycle of this fascinating group of invertebrates. Thank you for reading... Happy New Year !



Friday, 28 December 2012

Hawfinch, Merlin and more lift the post Xmas gloom

The rainy weather is getting beyond a joke, and with the effects of Christmas indulgence abating a little, and the rain likewise, I jumped in the car determined to get a couple of hours fresh air, exercise and birding under my increasingly tightening belt.
The birding got off to a good start at least today when I spotted  female/immature Merlin over the fields near the A456. The bird flew across the road right in front of me, continuing it's low passage over the field to the left. It's not my first of the year, but it's the first sighting I have reported on the blog.
  With my mood boosted, I came over all "goodwill to all men", and befitting that festive time, when it's more about giving than receiving, I even extend that to some baggies. So on a whim, I phoned JK to see if he was coming out to play, and with the answer in the affirmative, I collected him on the way to the Wyre.
It was another dismal day, with little light and the constant threat of rain. As we left the car we met a couple of Birders who reported it was "pretty dead" ( as The Wyre can be at times ), however we pushed on, ever the optimists.
Within a few minutes walking we had picked up on Nuthatch and a pair of Greater Spotted Woodpecker's, the first of quite a few.  The next notable sighting was 4 flyover calling Lesser Redpolls, a species I had not even seen this winter, seemingly low in numbers in my part of the county.Thankfully 2 were seen later on perched up, much more satisfying. Then at last, a 2012 Wyre Marsh Tit  ! all sightings are gratefully received of this locally diminishing species.
So, finally, the highlight of the foray, a stunning male Hawfinch showed after a patient couple of hours. The bird showed well for a few minutes, and we later connected very briefly with 2 other birds. But the first bird was a show stopper, despite the poor light it showed up much better in the optics that the camera. Been nearly 2 years since I had last seen one, but well worth the wait. The video is the best that could be managed, given the lack of light and relative angle to the sky, but it acted as a more satisfying record that a grainy picture.A very enjoyable late December bit of birding


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Simple patch pleasures

With Saturday being a washout, I was keen to get a bit of fresh air Sunday. I packed my scope and headed to the local lake to see what had stepped off the Ark.
I was literally just set up, and focusing on some gulls, when a Kingfisher zoomed across my field of view. I was able to pan and follow it quite a way...this was so pleasing, I had gone all year without connecting with one on the patch, and had specifically set out to try and nab one for the patch year list over Christmas, a result !
With the exception of a Cormorant  there was little else of note, no Tufted Ducks or Goosanders today. I moved across to the stubble field, which initially seemed barren, but after a while things began to appear. At the border, Song Thrush,Mistle Thrushes, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard and Nuthatch. Down on the field were a dozen Chaffinch,and half a dozen Blackbirds and Goldfinches but even with the scope I couldn't string a Brambling.
Back home I did a bit of garden birding, with a good range of species either in or just beyond the garden in the trees behind the house. Pick of the bunch was a Treecreeper in the large Horse Chestnut. The Greenfinches obviously didn't like my presence, but the Dunnock didn't mind. It's been great to see an influx of Coal Tits of late, and I have observed 4 or 5 at a time flitting around the garden. I decided to try and capture some video.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Grimley hits the spot

When JK text on Saturday morning suggesting a cheeky trip over to Grimley, I knew what he was thinking and took up his offer of a ride. I was thinking the same myself, Top Barn does great bacon and I wanted to stock up for Christmas, and their hot sausage rolls make a welcome birding snack !
There was also the possibility the recent meteorological events had produced a bit of bird movement so with a list full of incentives we headed over.
The first site we dropped in on produced immediate results. Usually it's a bit of a speculative stop off, but today, the Sling Pool floods were heaving with birds !
Over 100 Lapwing and dozens of Fieldfare were in the fields. On the water we noted Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Little Grebe and Tufted Ducks. Snipe were strolling around brazenly in very good numbers. However the highlight was getting onto a couple of Black-tailed Godwits that JK picked up in the scope on the far right side. I had only seen them at Slimbridge and Norfolk this year so it was a nice county year tick and a good record overall. Showing well in the scope, I didn't even bother trying for a pic, winter conditions negated that. A Green Sandpiper showed a couple of times too but remained in an area hidden to us.
From there we headed on to the other usual sites, where it was all a bit quite by comparison, save for the female Goldeneye at the New Workings. This was another county 'rareity' for me, not having seen any within Worcs since late 2010.
Before checking the Old Workings, we visited Top Barn Farm shop to raid the fridge of Bacon. A large sausage roll was also partaken of and eagerly dispatched while checking over the Old Workings ( which was pretty quiet ). However, the Sling Pool site alone was worth the trip, and the addition of any pork/pastry product can only enhance the experience.
 
Goldeneye ( record shot from 2012 )
                                                                             
 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

New for Xmas, a video on YouTube

Just a quick update, I will be uploading some nature video soon onto my YouTube channel, from this last year, and hopefully more new footage next year.
As a starter for 10, and as it's the time of year everyone releases a video, I've had a stab at cobbling together some of the years highlights, it's only 3 minutes and suitable for all ages !
Click on the YouTube logo to view all videos and check for updates

Cheers!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Goosander Record !.. and Winter Thrushes

On Sunday I was dusting off the cobwebs trying to get myself motivated for a patch walk when I had a text from fellow local birder Glenn H.
He had beat me to the local pool and relayed that there were 16 Goosander present. The "early bird" and all that ! Anyway, I scout marched across to take in this record breaking fall of Goosander. Glenn had nipped home for his camera, and just before he returned I managed to dig out another Female taking the count up to 17 Goosander (6 Males)
Thats' a damn fine count !
 The Tufted Duck numbers had increased to 8, and there were 2 Cormorant also present.
I walked with Glenn back to his car, we were bemoaning the lack of winter thrushes on the patch. As I left him and headed up to the paddocks I came across a flock of 35 Fieldfares ( the first on the deck I had seen), bit of a coincidence, and ironically, when I walked back later, they were all in the field next to where he had been parked.
The final pleasing bit of the walk was right outside my house, where there was a lot of Blackbird activity on the berries. I picked up on my first Redwings in the street this winter, and despite the failing light as the rain started, I managed a quick picture taken from my drive.

video



Sunday, 2 December 2012

Long Tailed Duck and Things

Their has been a long staying Long Tailed Duck a few miles up the road. Although only about 9 miles as the quacker flies, it's a site I rarely visit. Given it's birder unfriendliness, lack of parking and high level of vehicle crime I can't think why I don't spend more time there.
Anyway, I think initially there was just a female, but the prospect of seeing the male was the tipping point as after all they are pretty rare around Worcs.
So Saturday morning I set up scope on the friendly confines of the Resa, and scanned around. There was decent numbers of Goosander of both sexes. After 5 minutes I picked up on the Male Long Tailed Duck , diving frequently in the NE corner.It was smartly marked. Thanks to someone over that side with a long lens, the bird was gradually being pushed further from the far shore, and eventually they managed to put the bird up which allowed me to see the long median black stripe down it's back as it sought a bit of peace..
So that was it , a lifer.
I decided to swing by the large Waxwing flock at Webbs on the way back. However, when I drove through the entrance and saw how close some of the cameras were set up in relation to the berries I changed my mind. To my mind some folks were just too close, not giving the birds anywhere near enough space.There is an ethical line in the sand and anyone who can't get a decent image from a few yards further back with a big lens and several grands worth of kit should take a leaf  out the book of proper photographers who can, without compromising the wellbeing of the subject.Anyway, I don't know who they were and doubt they read this anyway, but it's something that does cause bad feeling with most birders I know.
Anyway, just round the corner on Swan Lane there were c15 Waxwings flitting around catching insects, who obviously didn't fancy having a lens poked up their jacksie.
On Sunday I did my local patch. Tufted Ducks were back on the Pool, 3 males and a female, the first since May. The was not much else to rave about, but on ending the walk I stopped to observe the small House Sparrow population. It frequents an unremarkable part of the patch, around the gardens of 3-4 houses and adjoining land. I had them at another site on the patch but have not seen them there for a while, I hope they have not gone for good. They sit up in the bare bush and chirp at you as you walk past.
 Once so commonplace when I was a kid, they seem to heading in the same direction as the Tree Sparrow.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Great Northern Diver ( Staffs) and Belvide

With news of a Great Northern Diver turning up just up the road in Lower Penn, I decided to pop over, making the most of a day off from work . It was a species I had not seen, and they had been popping up on many inland water bodies over the last few days, so it seemed wise to chance a low mileage " twitchette".

Aside from the very muddy path, this was a jaffa as it turned out, a twenty minute drive and a ten minute walk and I was watching the bird at close quarters, with just 2 other birders..perfect. The bird was doing plenty of diving and the occasional 'snorkel'

From here I decided to carry on up to Belvide. I fancied trying to catch up with a few species I had seen little of  lately, or even this year.I'm an WMBC member but don't visit Belvide nearly often enough, in fact it had been over 12 months since my last visit !
It was less than 30 mins up to the Resa' and I enjoyed a couple of hours watching the decent numbers of  ducks bobbing about, especially the numerous Goldeneye, which was a year first. There were plenty of Pochard, Wigeon, Teal, and Great Crested Grebes as well as a Lesser Black Backed Gull of note. It's always good as well to catch up with the Tree Sparrows, a bird I rarely see elsewhere. A Water Rail squealed it's presence too. With the expected Winter Thrushes and other passerines, it was an enjoyable couple of hours.
I was virtually alone on the reserve and leaving the West Hide at around 13.40 I passed a birder heading to where I had come from. It was most likely the author of Belvide Birding who later posted on his blog that, ironically, a Great Northern Diver had dropped in at 14.03 !


Great Northern Diver





                                                                  
                                                                           Female Goldeneye




                                 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Waxwings on the Doorstep !



I started the morning around Ladies Pool. Last week I had connected with my 1st Brambling of the season around there, and yesterday I had noted the return of a Little Grebe, which seems to favour this spot at this time of year. Today there was a single ♀ Goosander at the furthest reaches of the lake, perhaps a result of the all the flooding locally ?
I was heading back to the car for the next leg of the patch tour, when I received news of 3 Waxwings just down the road at Rowberry's !
This was excellent news. Waxwings seem to have been popping up in every bloody county that borders Worcestershire lately, whilst stealthily  avoiding my neck of the woods. Anyway within 10 minutes I was pulling onto the car park of Rowberry's, hoping they were still around.
As soon as I opened the door I heard their lovely ringing call and enjoyed the birds coming down onto berries just a few feet away. After a few minutes it became evident there were more than the reported 3, and soon I counted 8 on site.
News had spread amongst the local Birders and there were soon half a dozen familiar faces there enjoying these exquisite birds, including Craig R, aka Midlands Birder . You can read about his encounter sometime in the New Year ( only joshing MB !). Craig kindly let me have a butcher's in his scope of the mature adult male, the only 1 amongst the 8.

 I will get my excuses in first, the light was actually quite tricky, and totally against for the closest views, so pics were a bit of a zooming compromise, but hey ho, it was a great Sunday local mini twitch and social, and what better winter migrant to grace it !


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Norfolk-and-Birds

Last Thursday I made an eagerly anticipated sojourn to the English mecca of birding, the north Norfolk coast. What I had hoped would be a veritable welly filling exercise in year tick's, lifers and high quality birding ended in abject frustration as I was 'done' by fog.
It was foggy when I left my house at 5.30am, foggy all the way to Norfolk. However, the local radio 'KLF FM' assured me as I entered Old Hunstanton that it would 'clear by lunchtime'. It didn't,tossers, and by 2.30pm despite continually nudging further eastwards in a vain bid to escape it,  it was rolling in thicker and faster than ever.
 The locals were no comfort "settin in for a couple o'days " they all said to a man, chewing on their piece of straw. So whilst I think I went to Norfolk, I barely saw any of it, certainly no actual coast , save for a couple of yards of sea whilst stood on Cley beach, where I found myself contemplating doing a Regginald Perrin.
Highlights, 3 Marsh Harriers, Cettis ( heard),Guillemot (very close to shore of course), Turnstone, Brent Geese, getting home.


Brent Geese ..honest !
Fog Harrier


Mist Shanks








Sunday, 11 November 2012

Mipits save the Doorstep Doldrums

Sunday 11th November

As it was such a nice morning I decided to walk my patch, despite finding very little about the previous day.Thankfully I had been to Elmley Lovett on Saturday and at least enjoyed a few Redwings and Fieldfares, but the patch was really quiet.On Ladies pool a LBB Gull and 2 Cormorants of note. Walking on, Green and Greater Spotted Woodies and a Nuthatch. The Buzzard was on its favourite perch.

Buzzard

As I descended down into the Paddocks a couple of Ravens could be heard, and continued to frequent the area for the rest of my tour, occasionally resting up on a Pylon with a different pair of Buzzards .The occasional Skylark showed but bird numbers ,save for the large Corvid and Woodpigeon flocks on the fields, were low. 
With all the disturbance on the paddocks of late ( laying of Water pipes), there has been a noticeable lack of Linnets, but as I climbed the path back towards home I picked up on a group of birds flitting from grass to fence line. Expecting to see the welcome sight of a few Linnets, I was delighted to see that they were largely Meadow Pipits, with the occasional Linnet about too. Altogether I reckon about 20 Mipits, which despite the interruption of a dog walker and her 2 wandering hounds, hung around long enough for a record shot.This is my 1st record of Mipit in the Barnet Brook area, and was a most pleasing find after a good few hours of not much else this weekend.


Raven

Meadow Pipit











 






Sunday, 4 November 2012

Wigeon on the Doorstep

video

It was nice and quiet as I approached Ladies Pool this morning, and cutting through the air was the unmistakable call of Wigeon. I had a seem some  there a few weeks ago, but they were at the far end, and in eclipse. Today there were 2 very smart males and a female. The one male was initially reasonably close so I took a quick bit of video of one calling, and the other can be heard replying. The rest of the circuit was fairly quiet but  I  needed the  walk, and I found out a few interesting things chatting to a couple of fellow locals, hopefully stuff I can see for myself and  utilise on the blog at some future point !

Ring Ouzel reward ! 3rd November

I was minded to try my luck on Saturday up at Titterstone Clee. There is always that possibility of a good passage migrant, a decent Raptor as well as a bit of fungi should the tumbleweed be blowing through on the birding front.
I took pity again on the house bound Jason K  ( not because his car was still in for repair, just generally because he is Sandwell FC fan ) and collected him as I was passing, and we  crossed the county line into Shropshire.
Soon we were up at the summit of Titterstone where conditions could best be described as 'a bit fresh' and rather misty. However, encouraged by our hopeless optimism, we proceeded to do a thorough working of the site, to see what we could winkle out.
Passerines were very thin on the ground, and save for a few Meadow Pipits things were very quiet. As another wave of  mist rolled over, we were beginning to think it could be 'one of those days'. However things picked up as a nice pair of Stonechats showed, the male looking very smart, even with viewing hampered by the poor visibility.
Round by the old fort, we enjoyed nigh on  50 Ravens whizzing around having fun on the breeze, which was worth the admission price alone.
The fungi was a little disappointing, save for some Snowy Waxcaps.
After a couple of hours, and not much else to report save a Buzzard, we headed down to the working quarry. Optimism had been fairly dampened by now, we had barely counted a handful of species, let alone a rarity.
With grim determination we continued to scan and listen when all a sudden we thought we were onto something. We flushed a bird that flew away low towards the quarry, the brief jizz just did not look right for a blackbird. Heading into the viewing area at the far end there seemed to be some passerine activity where the rocks were trapping the sunlight. There on  a ledge was a male Ring Ouzel. Unfortunately it only showed few a few seconds before disappearing over the ridge. However after doubling back, we reconnected with it again briefly 20 or so minutes later.
This was my third Rouzel of the year, and my first autumn bird ever, and a good reward for  the  graft and teamwork we had had put in in less than ideal conditions !

Snowy Waxcap


Ring Ouzel ( Spring passage bird 2012 Titterstone)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Foggy Patch and a Fungi Safari

Saturday 20th... Patch
I set out optimistically on Saturday to walk the circuit of of my patch, only to rapidly realise that the fog was lot worse that had been apparent from the house. Unperturbed I pushed on, patch birders are hardcore like that ;@) used to trying to get blood out of a stone.Besides there has been little reason to stray further afield, with the birding scene fairly stale at the moment. The other thing is you have to gather the negatives, as it's all information. I've had no Yellowhammers the last few weeks, no Kestrel. Only by recording what is present, or not, on a  patch over time can you get a proper feel for what is happening, why and looking for trends.
Anyway, the common stuff was still calling, even if it wasn't always showing, and I noticed a slight increase in Chaffinch  numbers in an area I have seen decent finch flocks in recent years, some of which have held Brambling, so that was something to note.
I will cut to the chase, in a section where the fog was at it's thickest, 2 Swallows pushed across a field, low, close and south bound, a good late record.
I also stumbled across a Field Vole that had perished on the path. I took a record shot, it may be useful info for the Worcestershire Biological Records of their presence, after all I am unlikely to see one alive normally.
Finally, on the homeward stretch, 9 Meadow Pipits flew over. This was actually a patch tick for me. So, whilst the walk was damp and fog bound, I actually eeked out 3 interesting ( if unspectacular) observations for the patch.

Field Vole

Sunday 21st... Devils Spittleful
More fog. I had arranged with Jason K to do a walk around the Devil's Spittleful Nature Reserve. I had never actually ventured onto that side of the A456 so although the premise was a fungi forage, for me it was also about getting the lie of the land. I'm not hugely into fungi , I like them as much from a aesthetic point of view and the thrill of hunting out a good specimen. It fills a void with the birding being a bit stale and the inverts as good as over.
It was an enjoyable 3 hours. Bird wise, Redwing flock over, 4 Buzzards, a Kestrel, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, several Jays and Mipits stood out. On the invert front, a surprise in finding a Small Copper still knocking about. On the large feline mammal front, a Lion roared loudly, but thankfully it was the other side of the fence on the Safari Park site.
The fungi were decent if not spectacular. I have posted the pics of the pick of the bunch.
Sickener
Rosey Bonnet ( cheers JK)

Small Copper, definitely




Yellow Brain Fungus, for sure





Lion !

Monday, 15 October 2012

A Weekend on the Doorstep

With it being quiet on the bird scene I couldn't be bothered venturing too far this weekend. Instead on both days I undertook an extensive walk of my patch, prefering to see what I could dig up.  .
Saturday 13th
At Ladies Pool Wood, the first delight of the day appeared in the form of a Treecreeper. I have only had a handful of Treecreeper sightings this year, and this was my first in this area since March.As a tit flock moved through I picked out a Coal Tit, then, in the same tree that the Treecreeper had been, a Siskin showed, again a species not seen here since March.
A Grey Heron then passed over quite low, possibly having come off Forge Pool
The First of 5 Red Admirals flew by, which together with a Single Comma and a single Small Tortoiseshell completed the butterfly sightings on the walk today.
Over in the Barnet Brook area, I caught up with a few more species that have eluded me for a little while locally. First a Splendid Song Thrush, then a Sparrowhawk, which was harassed for a few minutes by a Raven, providing good views against the clear blue sky.
A Collard Dove was seen, they seem to come and go on my patch. ...All these bird species were not seen last week
The 'twist' today was an excursion into the sandy heath area of my patch to see if any fungi were showing.  I don't profess any great knowledge, and like them as much for aesthetic reasons as anything. Consequently I give ID's to pics sometimes as a best guess.

Amethyst Deceiver


Purple Brittlegill




Penny Bun
The Penny Bun was huge ! There were also numerous Earthball's around. I headed home wards via the paddocks where I had 2 final good bird encounters. Firstly a Green Woodpecker dropped in close by while I was chasing a moth, and finally a Mistle Thrush showed well along the bridle path. I just avoided the rain.

Green Woodpecker
 Sunday 14th
 
With the weather being so nice again, I could not resist a bit more exercise and low carbon birding. I basically did it all over again ! Today I was joined by Jason K for the Fungi stretch ( that's not an unusual  position ! ), he loves a bit of Fungi and I had promised him a big Surprise in the woods ! )
Firstly though, to get to that point, there was walking to be done, and the the birding highlights came together in a matter of minutes. Firstly, just down from the Kennels, I pick up on my first Redwings of the Autumn, 2 perched high in a tree. If that was not good enough, I then secured a patch Lifer in the form of a Grey Wagtail ! The bird was on the roof of the Kennels where several Pied Wagtails were coming and going, and indeed chased it off.
At this point JK arrived and we undertook the Fungi trail I had walked the previous day. I will leave him to tell about that final part of a great weekend





                                                          

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Patch Super Sunday

Yesterday I had an enjoyable trip 20 miles down the road to Titterstone Clee. I will leave the Shenstone Birder to write a summery of that little sojourn.
Sunday was another lovely Autumn morning so I set out to walk a circuit of my patch. Things started well with the apparent return of the House Sparrow population noted. On my first look at Ladies Pool there was a Lesser Black Backed Gull and more importantly a Cormorant ! This was my 1st non flyover Cormorant on the patch.
Walking away from the Pool I noticed a Red Admiral basking high up in a tree, I had seen Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell yesterday too in Shropshire.
I continued to pick off the expected bird species, A Raven kronked over,  then  4 Skylarks performed well and showed beautifully against the blue sky.A  Nuthatch, tapped loudly at the entrance to Barnet Brook Wood.
Emerging onto the Stubble field the south facing set aside area was chuffing with inverts, mainly hoverflies but a few butterflies began to show. 2 Chiffchaffs chased each other through the treeline. I then came to an area of Ivy berries that held 3 Red Admirals and 5 Comma's...a splendid sight in the Sunday morning sunshine, it was now pretty warm and they flitted around the adjacent vegetation.


Basking Red Admiral



Comma

.
I was both surprised and pleased to see a few remaining Swallows lingering prior to their winter vacation, around the Kennels. A good group of pied wagtails occupied the site near the paddocks , which were pretty quite. Things livened up again as I approached Wood Lane, with a couple of Mistle Thrushes making a welcome appearance, followed by a pair of Bullfinches.
I swung back around to Ladies Pool again, which was busier with wild fowl. Scanning around I picked up a female Goosander, my earliest autumn date by a good month !



Female Goosander ( v long range Digital shot)

At the far end of the pool was a group of ducks that I could not be definite about. They certainly were not Mallards, I decided to pop back later with my Scope. As I crossed the causeway some further invert activity caught my eye. Firstly a still pristine looking Migrant Hawker nosed around me before leading me to a Common Darter, basking on the edge of the pool. These were certainly late welcome sightings.



Common Darter

A little while later I returned with my scope. The Goosander took flight just as I arrived, but the mystery ducks at the far end proved to be 7 eclipse Wigeon (4 males) ..a patch lifer !... I had clocked up just short of 40  bird species ( without seeing Kestrel, Sprawk,Linnet,Song Thrush, Yammer or  Dunnock) .. add in a patch lifer and those inverts .. a super Sunday stroll.
Wigeon

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Stonechats in Worcestershire

video

On Friday afternoon I received a call from local birder Terry H kindly informing me of a pair of Stonechats he had located. They were about 1/2 mile from my local patch, and potentially my first Worcestershire sighting of these charming birds this year.
So after work, stopping off home to get my gear, I swung by to see if I could locate them. Fortunately this was not too hard as there were a couple of familiar faces at the sight who were already there enjoying the birds. The light was not great for photograhy, so I thought a bit of video would convey the experience better. A good start to the weekend.
The Video looks better on my Flickr page in HD to be honest HERE

Sunday, 30 September 2012

BTO Winter Thrush Survey. Early days

The UK countryside supports large numbers of several thrush species through the winter. The BTO Winter Thrushes Survey aims to find out more about their numbers and distribution, and the  resources that they need to survive to spring and the next breeding season.
It is an online Survey and I signed up for it a few weeks ago. I have selected 3 squares that encompass a route I walk on my local patch. To be honest I was not expecting any Redwings , Fieldfares  ( or Waxwings ! ) but I decided to do my first survey more for the exercise and to see what the food sources were looking like on the route, brushing up on my berry ID skills.
It was a windy and overcast day, not great birding weather, and it was sods law that there was not a singlee Mistle or Song Thrush even to be seen en route ( slightly unusual). The patch is undergoing quite a bit of pipe laying and much of it looked like a scene from the film "Tremors", which must be affecting the local wildlife.
I noted and recorded the Blackbirds and Starlings, and was pleased to see plenty of berries including Pyracantha, Hawthorn, Elder,Ivy and Contoneaster.
The most prevalent birds were from the Corvid family, enjoying the windy conditions and along with Wood Pigeons feeding in the fields and Paddocks. Jays were also showy and numerous. A decent sized group of Swallows did their bit for "Viz Mig" and a few of the summer offspring were still present along with a couple of House Martins.
I had 2 Cormorants flyover, only my second patch record. Other birds of note were Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker,Nuthatch, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. It was hardly conducive to butterfly sightings, but I did manage a single Comma.
Speaking of Lepidoptera, I also came across a colony of micro moths around a section of Bracken. Despite the wind I whipped out my Compact and managed a snap so I could ID what looked like a new species to me. It is Nettle Tap, a common moth, but new to me so very pleasing.


Nettle Tap moth


Also noted was a couple of Earth Balls, this one pausing for a rest.

Earth Ball

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Tapas...A taster of the inverts of Seville

I spent a couple of days in Seville this week. Amongst the heat of the city  is the oasis of the Alcazar and it's gardens. I could not help but keep an eye out for some new dragonflies and butterflies. Fuelled by a few too many tapas and glasses of wine here are the few species I managed to nab during my afternoon visit. I have done my best to ID them correctly





Violet Dropwing

Orange-winged Dropwing
The Dragonflies were tiny, as was this butterfly..
Geranium bronze

Geranium bronze
Adios......

Saturday, 15 September 2012

High Quality Day Out

On Saturday me and the blogger formerly known as Shenstone Birder decided to get high. Oh course, what I mean by this is head to the high ground to see what passage migration  we may happen upon. Thankfully, despite his recent makeover, JK was still easy to ID as I swung by for 9.30.
We made the journey up the road to to the summit of Titterstone Clee in good time, leaving pleasant warm weather at lower altitude, it was a 3 sweater job as I emerged from the car.
Initially it was all a bit cold, windy and birdless, save for Meadow Pipits. However, soon we started clocking some nice Wheatears on passage. They seem a lot less skittish than the spring birds and one in particular allowed a record shot. By the end of the day, we had clocked up 13, which was probably a fraction of what was lurking on the high points around the radar stations.


Wheatear Titterstone Clee
 We were hoping to connect with a few raptors, and the first to be encountered was a nice juvenile Kestrel, the first of a few to be seen that day. As the Wheatear count climbed the Ravens appeared, some mobbing a pair of  Buzzards that showed.  Gradually the wind dropped down a bit and the temperature rose. Two Peregrines emerged, one having a memorable bit of aggro with one of the Kestrels..Raptortastic !
30 minutes of dedicated sky watching could not produce another raptor, so lunch was taken, with butterflies including Small Copper and Red Admiral being noted. As we munched on our cobs, I spotted a Dragonfly on the wing over by the large pool. On finishing lunch we ambled over to investigate. After a few minutes of observation and rumination the conclusion ( subject to double checking the field guide ) was that Common Hawkers  were being watched , a lifer ! These, despite their name are not at all common on Worcestershire.They are very restless Dragonflies , rarely settling, so a photo was proving tricky. However I eventually got a record shot.

Common Hawker, superb !
There were more Common Hawkers down at a smaller pool. A copulating pair were seen, tracked and recorded, which was a great result,a bit easier to get a snap

Common Hawkers Copulating
  Also on the pool, decent numbers of mature Emerald Damselflies.
Emerald Damselfly
As we headed back to the car, a family party of 3 Stonechats was seen. We added 2 more Stonechats on the way home via Catherton Common, where Skylarks were also seen, along with Grey Herron, and hirundines. Some great birds today, and an unexpected addition to my dragonfly list.