Friday, 17 February 2012

Brandon Marsh :: 17 February 2012

With one of the girls out with friends, we decided to pop up to Brandon Marsh to have lunch and a quick walk around the reserve. Not too cold and no wind helped make the conditions feel quite spring-like. The hot lunch helped with that too.

Despite the number of cars in the car park, the reserve was actually quite quiet, especially for a half-term Friday. Heaven in the hides and quite a few birds around. Perhaps the species count is rising due to the rising water - a significant change since we were last there. Amazingly we saw yet another pintail; that is three in as many days - have I just not been paying attention before?

PintailToday's species count was 42 and included: coal tit, magpie, feral pigeon, great tit, blue tit, robin, black-headed gull, reed bunting, chaffinch, kestrel, woodpigeon, dunnock, carrion crow, great spotted woodpecker, blackbird, greenfinch, canada goose, mallard, tufted duck, cormorant, wren, green woodpecker, long tailed tit, mute swan, coot, shoveler, pochard, teal, lapwing, moorhen, lesser black-backed gull, common gull, greylag goose, pintail, wigeon, snipe, pheasant, goldeneye, heron, gadwall, shelduck and bullfinch.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

RSPB Otmoor :: 16 February 2012

With a couple of hours spare in Oxford, the kids and I decided to pop along to RSPB Otmoor and see what was about. As we went round the sun started to shine - always a plus. Talking to one of the guys manning his scope he mentioned that a brent goose had been spotted earlier and that a flock of canada geese had just left for the first screen with a much smaller goose in the group. Off we went to the first screen and fortunately there it was - another tick :-) In the distance another pintail - 40 years then two come along at once, or perhaps I am looking more now.

Brent gooseAlthough a quick visit, as we had to pick up mum, we noted 30 species, including: magpie, carrion crow, chaffinch, robin, kestrel, dunnock, lapwing, pheasant, blue tit, great tit, reed bunting, long tailed tit, canada goose, bullfinch, pintail, greylag goose, brent goose, tufted duck, wigeon, shoveler, teal, mallard, coot, heron, rook, woodpigeon, blackbird, red kite, starling and grey partridge.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

RSPB Sandwell Valley :: 14 February 2012

Valentines Day 2012 and a visit to RSPB Sandwell Valley. Do I know how to treat my wife or what!? Actually, we did stop off for some lunch at our favourite Chinese - Wing Wah in Nechells. From here we waddled off to RSPB Sandwell Valley where we were greeted by 8 magpies, 4 squirrels, 3 woodpigeons and 2 crows in the car park. A large welcoming committee.

Once we had moved our car outside the gates (expecting to leave after the 5pm curfew) we managed to sneak into the hide. The few people left there quickly pointed out the jack snipe showing well just to the side of the hide. Amazing, and a first for me - as was the pintail not a few minutes later.

The car temperature gauge had read 8C but the real-feel temperature was somewhat lower. Thanks to the family they still let me get as much around the site as was possible with the various works in progress. We were rewarded with an encounter with a pair of jays, unfortunately cut short by some cyclists.

Jack SnipeThe sightings for our visit were 37, including: magpie, woodpigeon, collard dove, redwing, chaffinch, great tit, blue tit, carrion crow, lapwing, black-headed gull, canada goose, dunnock, robin, greenfinch, goldfinch, teal, wigeon, jack snipe, pintail, goosander, tufted duck, gadwall, mute swan, coot, moorhen, great-crested grebe, starling, greylag goose, blackbird, fieldfare, shoveler, mistle thrush, common gull, song thrush, jackdaw, jay, mallard and house sparrow.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Farmoor Reservoir :: 04 February 2012

Woke up to find a cold and crisp morning. On opening the curtains the fieldfare and redwings could be seen stripping the berry bushes and trees along the street - a flock of at least 30. They seemed to have their vantage points to rest between feeds and retreated there as cars and passers-by disturbed them. It was a shame I had to get up and out ... I could have watched them for hours.

After a swift breakfast it was off to drop the youngest daughter at Music School and onto Witney for a visit to a particular store - from the car there were many buzzard sightings (7) and one greater spotted woodpecker. The jobs out of the way and being only 10mins from Farmoor Reservoir - well I couldn't resist, especially as I'd heard there was a great northern diver visiting. I only had 45mins to spare and so it was a brisk walk around the eastern half (Farmoor I) of the reservoir.

RedwingUnfortunately the great northern diver (now two I'm told) eluded me. However I did spot a pair of red-crested pochard, mallard, pied wagtail, chaffinch, blue tit, goldfinch, tufted duck, magpie, buzzard, coot, pochard, carrion crow, mistle thrush, fieldfare, black-headed gull, goldeneye, great crested grebe, redshank and more cormorants than you could throw a stick at. But no diver - damn - maybe next time.