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Monday, 27 February 2012

Out and About Grimley 25th Feb

Today myself and the Shenstone Birder decided to have a little  birding potpourri. This mainly lead to Jason directing me down roads unsuitable for 4x4's and dead ends, but between such escapades we stopped off to see a few birds.
Near Ombersly Golf Club we surveyed a field for 30 minutes enjoying some nice Bullfinches, Linnets, a male Kestrel and a Buzzard. We then headed for Grimley. At the sailing pool a Little Grebe was diving. Onto the north end of Camp Lane pits we scanned a large flock of Canada's hoping for a rare interloper, but only came across an oystercatcher of interest.
At Wagon Wheel Lane pits I was delighted to see my first butterfly of the year, a small Tortoiseshell, as well as a Bee. Bird wise things livened up with 3 Oystercatchers, and a year tick in the form of Green Sandpiper. There was a large flock of BHG's interspersed with LBBG's of various ages.At the far side Grey herons lurked in the trees.
The south end of Camp Lane was bustling with Wild fowl. Some splendid looking Gadwalls and Pochard and Wigeon of note.
The butterfly combined with some hearty singing and display flight from Skylarks in the sunshine suggested Spring was just around the corner.

Small Tortoiseshell,my
 1st butterfly of the year

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Dip,Dipping,Dippers 18th-19th Feb 2012

With a lot of the local birders on Saturday heading to South Wales to see something yellowthroated and American, someone had to hold the fort locally. I left the house intending to head for Grimley, but by the time I got to Mustow Green the sky was very dark so I turned left and headed for Upton Warren, there may not be the full compliment of hides still, but there was shelter and birds.
On arrival the weather was just holding, so I walked the Flashes path hoping to see Treecreeper, which I had yet to connect with so far this year. There were plenty of Redwings, Bullfinches and a Goldcrest about, but TC was out. Neither were there any Avocets, so I headed to the Moors.
As it was starting to rain I took up residence in the concrete hide. Of note were good number of Pochard, Shoveller, and Cormorant. There were 3 Shelduck ( 2 male) and an Oystercatcher. Great Crested and Little Grebe were seen, as well as Reed Bunting. I dashed round to the west Hide for a different view of the rain, and was pinned down by the downpour for a good hour there. Unfortunately neither Kingfisher or Water Rail made any appearance, but I was kept amused by various tweets about the no show Yellowthroat. I terrible rain.. having added Oyk to my Upton Warren year list a most disappointing session. By early afternoon the bird in my Sibleys guide had apparently shown it's throat.

 Reed Bunting

So to Sunday. A bright start with a dusting of snow. I fancied a trip to the Wyre, to walk Dowles Brook for the first time this year. From Car Park to brook, Nuthatch, Coal Tit and Goldcrest called and showed themselves. On reaching the bridge over the Weir, I scanned for Grey Wag but instead got Dipper ! Result ! The bird was nice and settled, starring at me from a hundred yards or so, I stood enjoying the bird for a couple of minutes and  I was just lining my camera up for a record shot when a somewhat overly vocal local decided to impart some deer related wisdom on me. Whilst not uninteresting, by the time he had gone, so had the Dipper. Oh well.

I walked the Brook to the youth hostel, noting several Nuthatches, A Jay, and plenty of Coal Tits, but no Marsh tit or Grey Wag.
Crossing the water I headed for Lodge Farm and spent 30 minutes on the bridge and there abouts. Yellowhammer, Kestrel, more Nuthatches, Dunnock and Greater Spotted Woodpecker about, and a Pair of Buzzards and Raven overhead. The area looked very pretty in the sun, with a little snow here and there.
Finally, I stopped off at Uncllys, but couldn't add anything to what I had already seen, but the exercise was much needed. A  White Throated Dipper was my mega this weekend,  I'm easily pleased.
Dipper..always a joy, 1st this year

Monday, 13 February 2012

Sunday 12th Feb, Quick year tick

With only an hour or so available for birding this morning, I decided to try my luck at adding a year tick that had escaped me so far this year.
I headed to Shenstone, for some blatant interloping, but first stopped off at Hodge Hill farmshop for the ingredients for a a bit of brunch. On the Car park were quite a few House sparrows, Collard Doves and Chaffinches. I whipped my bins out just in case I had seen Brambling on this site last year. Satisfied there were no bramblings I then  observed a flock of 21 Lapwing overhead going towards the Hurcott area.
Back in the car I decided to check what was on Hurcott Pool, the answer being 1 LBB.. and a Grey Heron. The pool was totally frozen.
Next I headed to Stanklyn Lane which was very quiet around the paddocks, save for a Jay and 3 hot air balloons.
Parking up at Heath Lane I took a stroll. Skylarks were calling and overhead passed the lapwing flock again, all 21 present and correct.
Near the Muslim college a yellowhammer was perched high in one of the bordering trees. The field to the side of the paddock had Skylark, but it was the 'jangly key's' call of Corn Bunting that pleased me, locating a single individual on the telegraph wire. Result!
On the way back to the car I spent a moment enjoying  the half dozen Fieldfare in the Muslim College grounds before heading home for a pre match Bacon sarnie. The rest of the day we shall drawer a veil over....
Is it Bird ? Is It a Plane ?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

One Saturday Morning, Two Lifers ! ..11th Feb

A trip to Slimbridge a couple of weeks ago had failed to yield any lifers, ostensibly because I was unable to connect with either Grey Plover, or the Lesser Scaup that was knocking about.
On Tuesday news filtered through of a Grey Plover at Grimley 20 minutes down the road,   I had no expectation of snaffling this bird, as the prospect of it hanging around until the weekend seemed remote. However, the days ticked by, and reports of it's presence continued. This morning I checked with someone who covers the patch regularly, and got the the green light it was still there, so I jumped in the car and headed for the site. On the way another text arrived with news of a male and female Red- crested Pochard also present at Grimley, another potential lifer ! My right foot got somewhat heavier all of a sudden.Two lifers, in ones native county...ooh err  missus !
I arrived at Camp Lane, ejected from the car and headed for the causeway. The pair of Red Crested Pochard were snoozing, oblivious to my whoops and internal celebrations.The male was resplendent, a real eye catching bird. I spent 15 minutes enjoying the pair.

From where I stood I was not able to see any sign of the Grey Plover, so I drove around to the north end and parked up. However, scanning back towards from where I had just been , I was now starring largely into the sun, bugger !
Not sure of where I could and couldn't access, and not wishing to inadvertently spook the bird, I made a quick call to a hungover Shentone Birder, who reassured me it was OK to proceed down to the flat ground. Very quickly after that I picked up the Grey Lifer, and scoped it for 10 minutes or so, as it gradually scooted from SW to S, eventually becoming difficult to see again.Still, Two lifers on one site!..I had Grey Phalarope there last year. I really think Grimley will give some good birds this year and I know the lie of the land now... I can feel it in my water !

Grey Plover record shot Grimley

 I spent the rest of the day dropping into a few different locations. Interloping onto Stanklyn Lane, there were 5 nice Mistle Thrushes,. At Barnet Brook the Snowdrops were looking mint. At Brakemill Pool I enjoyed snapping the Tufted Ducks which came closer than usual. Finally at a frozen Ladies Pool I had my third close up Buzzard of the day and a pair of Jays may a colourful late afternoon highlight.
Snowdrops Barnet Brook

Male Tufted Duck Brakemill Pool

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Yellow Sunday...5th Feb 2012

If yesterday had touches of 'Deilverance', today was much more 'Cold Mountain'. As I trundled down the misty snow covered lane, the local Jackdaws were brazenly sat in groups discussing me. Today was about birding areas that could only be reached by welly, so I set off for Barnett Brook. I was already in credit, having opened the blind to see a stonking male Blackcap feeding in the garden, a year tick, and on patch to boot ! How odd I have Blackcap and Chiffchaff on my year list ( both on patch), and it's barely February.
Anyroad, Captains Pool was 95% frozen, and the usual ducky suspects were mooching around along with a LBBG.A  nice Song Thrush, the common tit trio and the odd Goldfinch, along with House Sparrow and Starling were in the bag.
The small stubble field was quiet , except for the one side where a long pile of muck was pleasantly steaming away. A Pied Wagtail, a few Dunnocks and Chaffinches were exploring it, sensible fellows. Where there is muck, there is warmth and invertebrates. I hung around just in case a Brambling was lurking, before crossing the lane and heading for the brook. As I carefully traversed the footbridge I became aware the stubble field that the brook runs aside was  'chuffin' with birds.
A hundred or so mixed  Corvids , with half as many Woodpigeon went up, and settled into the trees and further down the field. I then noticed lots of finchy activity, commuting in groups of 20 from the tree canopy to the field. It became evident there was a large number of birds, easily over 100, working the field..Bingo !!
Scanning the tree line, I was gobsmacked, my bins were full of Yellowhammers, a dozen in 1 tree ! I had never seen more than 2 or 3 together, and my patch usually shows me a couple of breeding pairs each year.
Slowly edging closer to the body of the flock, I noticed more and more Yellow amongst the moving birds, and started picking them out on the top of the old crop heads too. I reckon there was c50 altogether, absolutely awsome to see so many of this red status species. The other main representative was Chaffinch, and I spent a good 30 minutes enjoying the flock move up and down from tree to field. I couldn't find a Brambling still , but there were a few Skylarks ( patch year tick) in there, as well as at least 2 Reed Bunting's, which was a patch life tick for me !
I finally dragged myself away, and on the way back noted c15 Siskin, Green and Greater Spotted Woodpecker, and a couple of Fildfare flying low down Sandy Lane.
With the weather today, I had no great expectation when I woke, but what a quality morning it turned out to be.

Didn't take my camera today, to slippy, but heres one I made earlier
'Ladies Pool in Bad Weather'

Saturday, 4 February 2012

A Walk In The Woods.. Saturday 4th Feb 2012

With sub zero temperatures and a forecast of snow, myself, Shenstone Birder and Wild Stuff decided to do the sensible thing and meet in a remote part of the Wyre in pursuit of a shy and rarely seen small bird. I'll tell you now, we dipped. We not only dipped, we got very cold, and for a couple of minutes, mildly lost. It wasn't quite echo's of the film 'Deliverance', but I can reveal now, Jason and I had decided, if it came to it, we would eat Gert.
The woods were beautiful, and some new ground was covered that held much promise for flora and fauna over the coming months. All the tit species of that part of Worcestershire were encountered, along with good numbers of Goldcrest and a few Nuthatch. A Raven Kronked over, and a Buzzard sat eyeing us from it's woody perch. Redwings, a Jay and a Song Thrush russled through the leaves.
The other two peckers ( that's Green and Great Spotted, not my companions) were spied. With banter and much mutual enthusiasm for what might have been, what indeed was, and what could be seen it was as satisfying and uplifting a couple of hours as one could wish for.The snow started as we returned to the car park.