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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Golden Grimley

Saturday was a planned trip to Grimley .Having popped there last week to see the fantastic array of birds, I felt they deserved a second look, given the snowy wet viewing the previous week. The first 45 minutes were a bit frustrating, as from my position I was unable to get on any of the goodies I knew had been seen on site earlier. However eventually the Sanderling showed, which was the one species I missed the previous week, it's winter plumage looking very fresh and white in the sunshine.The Grey Plover then appeared too, but in order to see the Smew again it was necessary to relocate to the south end. This was worth the effort, as with the sun behind and the conditions benign, the views were excellent of the female. The 2 drake Goldeneye were also very Smart.
Well satisfied that I had had good views of the birds I drove back towards Top Barn for an equally satisfying  hot sausage roll.

Just prior to reaching the hot sausage oasis, I noticed the field by the lay-by was chuffing with Lapwings so pulled in. Lifting my bins I scanned the field, I was hoping that maybe there were some Golden Plover in among them. There were , c20 ! Result ! This was especially pleasing, as I had never had really satisfying views of this species, and once viewed in the scope I set up, I was able to spend a while enjoying these lovely birds at my leisure. With business elsewhere that was it for the day, but I was glad I returned to see these species, and picking up the Golden Plover was ultimately a real bonus too.
Golden Plovers, Grimley

It was really windy Sunday, and I was just about to embark on my Garden Birdwatch Survey, when I had news of yet another great sighting at Grimley,this time a pair of Whooper Swans ! I was virtually ready to pop out for a while anyway, and I didn't take long to decide I fancied a quick twitch back to Grimley. 30 minutes later I was enjoying the spectacle of the 2 Whooper Swans.
Whooper Swans, Grimley

 The wind was very strong, nearly blowing over my gear at one point, and I decided to move on and do a bit of patch walking, more for the exercise than for expecting to see much there.  I did pick up a patch year tick, a pair of Mute Swans on the local fishing pool. This brought the local patch year total to 55, all on foot. I had set a target of 59 for January,so a score of 93% seems reasonable. Herring Gull, Grey Heron, Goosander and Sparrowhawk were my patch 'no shows'.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Smew causes rapid cold weather movement

I spent a couple of hours Saturday stoically trudging through the snow on a circuit of the patch. It was largely very enjoyable, even stumbling down a section where it was deeper than my wellies. Ladies Pool continued to disappoint given its a stretch of water that remains unfrozen. I did however hear a Tawney Owl call, which made up for the lack of a decent duck.
I encountered 3 Siskin flocks during the walk, the second one c70 large. Associated with the third one were good numbers of Goldfinch on Barnet Brook and a single female Brambling
I was also accompanied for a while by a Female Kestrel, who perched up at one point quite close. Down on the paddocks I stumble upon a finch flock feeding quite close. Unfortunately some walkers coming up behind put them up all to quickly, but not before I had picked out a few Linnets...the first on the patch for a good few months,and nudged my patch Footit list up to 54 for the month.
Being as stiff as an old horse the next day from my snowy exertions, and with snow falling steadily non stop, I decided to earn some brownie points and help with the weekly shop. However, shortly after getting back around lunchtime, news came through of a Smew down at Grimley. I had ignored the news about a Grey Plover there earlier, but a female Smew was more than I could resist, so I cashed the points straight in, jumped in the car, and made the 20 minute trip to one of my favourite birding spots.
The Snow fell relentlessly, and I admit I don't really like birding in precipitation. It was only my second Smew, the last one just over 2 years ago at Bewdley, also in snow. The Grey Plover showed well enough too ( the second one I have seen on that site in under a year).I picked up a nice male Goldeneye and a Dunlin too, but I didn't linger, a record shot would have been crap in that light and at that distance with snow falling, not worth getting the camera wet for. There was also a Sanderling on site, but I couldn't connect with it in the few minutes I tried. On the way home I dropped into Brakemill Pool, and nabbed a female Goosander. For a time of year that traditionally can be pretty dreary birding wise, this weekend turned out pretty well !

Grey Plover Grimley 2012 

Monday, 14 January 2013

A new look for the New Year

The New Year always inspires lots of new affirmations and ideas. I have a good few about how I want to progress  my birding and natural history journey this year, and I hope to share it via the blog. Lets see what 2013 brings !

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Wetland ticks and Patch Winter Thrushes

With the weather not exactly inviting me for a walk Saturday, I decided to do a couple of pit stops at the local wetland patches, ostensibly to see if the cold front had brought in anything of interest, but failing that to a least wrack up a few more year ticks.
Sling Pool floods Grimley had very good numbers of ducks and Canada Geese. Wigeon and Gadwall were abundant, as were the Lapwings too. Unfortunately no Golden Plover but a nice Siskin flock showed well with some corking males.The new workings were similar but colder, and a there was the odd snow flurry as I left, unable to locate a Goldeneye that had been about recently.
I then popped to Upton to see if I could connect with the Jack Snipe that has been about for a while now. There were 30 or more Common Snipe showing pretty well, and after about half and hour of on/off looking I picked up Jack the lad, a species I didn't connect with last year, so pretty pleasing( but no pic possible ).A pair of Shelduck was a year tick to.
                                                     Bit of Wetland action
A flock of Lesser Redpolls showed well on the east track, and I managed a snap in the poor light.
Lesser Redpoll, Upton

As is my mantra until things pick up later in the year, the car was rested on the Sabbath  and I undertook a 3 hour walk around both sides of the patch.A bit of BTO survey work was in mind.  The frost had hardened up the mud, making it much more pleasant underfoot. The leading impression from the walk was that there was a significant influx of winter Thrushes onto the patch. Redwing, Mistle Thrushes and most importantly, a few Fieldfare in 2 of the 3 groups on the paddocks gave me the only addition to mt patch year list.
Mistle Thrush and Redwing, missed the pesky Fieldfare !

 Also of note was a party of Goldcrests in the adjacent plantation and the Meadow Pipit flock was up to double figures and came quite close.
Meadow Pipit on Paddocks

Over on the North side of the patch, again, Redwing Flocks feeding on the ground. The first I have seen over there this winter, making me think this was related to the predicted bad weather of the next few days. In the Mill Garden, a large garrulous flock of birds , mainly Siskin, but associated with them,Tits, a Nuthatch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. A very lively and colourful end to a most enjoyable patch tour.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Patch Thrashing, green birding

I reason that there is no merit clocking up miles at present for the odd tick. I am keen to get some exercise and resolved to send more records into the BTO this year, and when I came across the idea of Footit recently I decided that a weekend thrashing the patch was the way to go. So the car stayed on the drive all weekend and I walked a fair few miles.
Even better, I saw a fair few species. On Saturday I teamed up with fellow local birder Glenn H for a thoroughly enjoyable 5 hours out and about. It couldn't have started better when I picked up a Brambling near the village green. Moving on the the fishing pool, we were delighted to see a pair of Kingfishers zooming towards us ! It took me all last year to nab a view of one there, and yesterday they showed really well, I even managed a distant  first ever patch record shot.

 Not long afterwards, another surprise, a Grey Wagtail popped up by the sluice, never had Grey Wag on that part of the patch. The area also gave us Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Redwing.
Down on the brook a Goldcrest was quite showy, insect feeding,and over towards Mount Segg a pair of Ravens appeared. One of the Ravens was obviously under orders to get the nest started, and proceeded to borrow some wool from a few of the sheep, buy jumping up on their backs and helping himself ! I managed to get a bit of video.

The final real goody of the walk was a small flock of Meadow Pipits on the paddocks helping to get a total of 44 species for the day.
On Sunday I did a different route, but started over at the Pool, as this always needs to be checked. I added Stock Dove to the list but otherwise it was quiet.
I then walked over to the north side of the patch, via a very muddy bridle path that skirts the golf course. Along here I encountered a very nice tit flock, containing 3 very showy Goldcrests and a Treecreeper.
With a Kestrel on the wires over the stubble fields the year list ended on 52, with no fuel used, only a good few calories burnt.Interestingly my patch total for January last year was 50.

 Total Species 52
Footit Target 59 ( seen 88% )
Total Miles c12..4 visits

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Brambling on the patch yearlist

Final opportunity to Bird until the weekend.Really poor light today. The fishing pool was very quiet, being busy with fishermen, but I quickly picked up a Nuthatch to add the the year list. After yesterdays Redpoll flock I was rewarded again, this time with a mixed flock of containing Siskin aswell.
I then headed to Woodrow hoping for a few Fieldfare, but instead found good Redwing numbers, and a very large but flighty finch flock, comprising c200 Chaffinch. I love a finch flock. I scanned and scanned and eventually when many went up into a tree, I picked up a Brambling by scanning with the scope. Result. I moved a couple of mile back down the road onto my own patch and immediately chanced upon another promising flock of finches. This flock was smaller but much more mixed, including good number of Yellowhammers.A bit of patience again with the scope and I winkled out 2 Bramblings, a great start to birding on the patch this year.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Redpoll and Siskins welcome in 2013

With a sunny welcome to the New Year, I resolved to immediately thrash the patch and take the advantage for a much needed long walk. Taking in the less visited north side of the patch proved rewarding, with c10 Yellowhammers around one of the Stubble fields and at least as many Skylarks.
Back over on the more frequented side, it looked like a flock of c30 Siskins feeding at times quite low and close was going to be the main reward.
 With the fishing pool devoid of much avian action, I turned my attention to the adjacent stubble field where a dozen or so Chaffinch were scrutinised. I then realized deeper into the field there were 14 Redwing and an among them an equal number of Mistle Thrushes. These Redwings were a real bonus,I  just don't get decent numbers like this on the patch often. I then became aware that some Goldfinches had put down in the tree overhead, but when I investigated further, I was chuffed to see that there were 16 Lessser Redpoll among them, actually making up the bulk of the flock ! With these being pretty low in number locally this winter, the fact they showed so well, and in good light was a real bonus, just a shame I had left the camera at home ! 30 species seen, with the pool being deserted and only 1 raptor seen. Still a quality start to the birding year on the patch though