Sunday, 30 September 2018

Temple Pool :: 29 September 2018

Charlotte was playing tennis in the afternoon so I decided to get the grass cut in the morning, have lunch, then head down to Temple Pool to see if any mandarin ducks were still there.

Mandarin duckIt was a beautiful afternoon with almost cloudless skies. Overhead were flocks of jackdaw and rooks, quite vocal. Buzzard over but no sign of the GS woodpeckers from last time. At the foot of the slope I crossed the horse racing track and into Temple Pool. This time I was even more careful and quite so as to not spook any of the birds on the water, I gingerly made my way to the Temple building and sat down on the steps, resting against one of the pillars.

To begin with the was nothing on the water, at least not in the open. Gradually though mallard showed, as did a couple of moorhen. Mandarin duckAfter a short while, a lone female mandarin broke from the righthand side and head down close to the water, swam out to the centre, turned, and headed back under the overhanging trees. Last time I was here it was just a single male I saw so hopes were now high.

Nothing changed for then next 10mins or so until the blue flash of a kingfisher headed down the righthand edge, in full sunlight. It landed on the bushes in the far distance (200m) but left out of sight shortly after.

Shortly after, a couple of female mandarin swan out further from the overhanging tress, followed by a male. ChiffchaffAs I got excited it hopped out of the water and onto a long hanging branch, but out of sight. Chiffchaff and blue/great tits fed on the trees and bushes either side of the temple, and a grey squirrel walked right past me.

Almost 20 minutes later another male mandarin with three females ventured out. This was followed by the male in the tree dropping into the water and making their way out into the main pool. Still around 100m away it gave the opportunity for some photos - 5 birds in all. This didn't last long and they headed towards the island at the far end. As they got close a third male, looking more like the more transitional plumage bird from last time, Kestrelappeared from the right and followed them away and out of sight.

I waited for another 5-10 minutes but they didn't show again. I was treated to the kingfisher landing on the wall at the water's edge, but all too short for a photo.

On the way back home I stopped at Balscote Quarry to see the work on the site - diggers been in much of the week. Can't wait for some water there! As I sat I had greenfinch, goldfinch and a raven mobbing a kestrel.

Sightings at Temple Pool (14) included: blue tit, buzzard, carrion crow, chiffchaff, great tit, jackdaw, kingfisher, magpie, mallard, mandarin duck, moorhen, robin, rook and woodpigeon.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Napton Reservoir :: 23 September 2018

I knew it would happen but it was still disappointing that a grey phalarope chose Friday to drop into Grimsbury Reservoir. As I feared, it had gone when people returned on Saturday morning. No chance then of seeing one on the patch. Grey phalaropeAfter arriving home at midnight on Saturday I opted for a long lie to try and recover from all my travels. Before heading for my shower, I had a look on BirdGuides to see if there were any birds around - the two most likely sites, close at hand, were Charlecote and Napton Reservoir.

It had been a long week, firstly visiting Davenport, Iowa USA, flying in overnight Friday and secondly moving my youngest daughter into University on the Saturday of my return. Just to cap it all, the M6 was shut in both directions for the journey home. Close was best and I know my way around Napton Reservoir.

Grey phalaropeWhen I arrived I couldn't immediately see anyone on the banks. Two fishermen had taken to the shore just before me and started unpacking their gear. As I surveyed the site I noticed a couple of people over the far corner (southern point). I assumed that if the birds were still here then that was most likely. I wandered around and found three guys in residence, two packing up camera equipment. There were, in fact, two grey phalarope [#142] feeding in the shallows. These are reported to be the first on the reservoir since 1967. The water level is quite low Grey phalaropeand perhaps the resulting muddy area and shallow edges have been more tempting.

I chatted to the remaining birder and discovered it was @draycotebirding. It is always good to put a face to the names you follow on Twitter. Hopefully, now we have met I can drop into Draycote to see some of the gull roosts with some guys that know their stuff. As he swung round his scope he picked out a water rail on the fringe of the opposite reeds.

As this was a bonus visit I didn't stay much longer after his departure, pointing out the location to a couple, and in the car park another party who reported they had missed the one at Charlecote - I made the right decision.

Sightings (16) included: black-headed gull, carrion crow, coot, great crested grebe, grey heron, grey phalarope, little grebe, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, rook, snipe, swallow, tufted duck, water rail and woodpigeon.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Temple Pool :: 12 September 2018

At the Banbury Ornithological Society monthly meeting on Monday, we had our regular bird callout. At this point I heard mostly reports that I was already aware, of or had read. One from Mark Ribbons though was for three mandarin ducks at Temple Pool, two in transitional summer plumage. Mandarin duckTalking to him later I asked where this pool was and he explained that it was on the left of the road, almost halfway between the Shenington turn (toward the recycling centre) and Upton House. I looked this up and found it to be at grid reference SP374447 - there is a gate and space to pull in off the road.

Mark had explained they were "flighty" and so I arrived at the pool carefully making sure I moved quietly and slowly. This was still too much and as soon as I passed the gate, a duck took off and flew off down to the far end of the pool, beside the righthand bank. Soon it came into sight but only for a few tens of seconds as it disappeared behind an island. Mandarin duckDespite waiting it never reappeared. My photos were unfortunately from a distance of just under 200m.

Two great spotted woodpecker flew over and into the top of a distant tree, although visible with binoculars. Making a bit of a racket.

On the way back to the car I heard jay in the trees but no sighting. I did though have a view of a hare feeding on the hillside which was nice.

Sightings included: blue tit, carrion crow, great spotted woodpecker, jackdaw, magpie, mallard, mandarin duck, red kite, rook and woodpigeon.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Daventry Country Park :: 09 September 2018

It has been a while since I ventured over to Daventry Country Park Spotted flycatcherbut with reports of 2 x pintail and a garganey I thought I would give it a go. Just as was about to leave home, @987jonty posted that he'd had a wigeon, marsh tit, a flower yellow wagtail and a spotted flycatcher at Grimsbury Reservoir. I haven't managed to catch up with a spotted flycatcher and thought about heading there - I haven't seen it there when I have so kept to my original plan.

The sun followed me over and the weather was good on arrival - £2 paid for parking and onto the reservoir for an anticlockwise circuit - it just feels right that way. Quite a breeze off the water as I went along the dam with no slight of the garganey or pintail.

ChiffchaffApproaching East Bay I saw some birds catching flies above the tress and stopped to watch - luck was on my side as it turned out to be a spotted flycatcher [#140]. Watching I then saw willow warbler and heard chiffchaff. I couldn't help think that I might be able to get a better view from further into the trees. A path headed in that way but soon ran out - I pushed through and watched to see what I could find. The glade opened ahead and I was treated watching spotted flycatcher, blackcap, treecreeper, willow warbler, chiffchaff, goldcrest, great spotted woodpecker and an array of tits all feeding ahead of me. In the end I stayed quite a while enjoying the show.Treecreeper

Further on I came across a southern hawker dragonfly, resting on some ivy followed by a common darter. Back on the water I spied the water's edge and picked out wigeon, teal, gadwall, shoveler, Canada geese and lapwing.

After a spot of lunch I sat on the dam and looked out to see if I could see the garganey amongst the feeding teal - no joy. Was it going to elude me again? In a last-ditch effort, I circled back to see if I could peer through the gaps in the trees to the feeding ducks. I took a series of photos and on returning home one was confirmed as the drake garganey [#141] in eclipse plumage - result!Southern hawker

Sightings today (34) included: black-headed gull, blackcap, blue tit, bullfinch, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, cormorant, gadwall, garganey, goldcrest, great crested grebe, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, house martin, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, little egret, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, moorhen, nuthatch, shoveler, spotted flycatcher, starling, teal, treecreeper, wigeon, willow warbler, woodpigeon and wren.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Farmoor Reservoir :: 02 September 2018

A tremendously good time at Birmingham Symphony Hall last night, entertained by Ward Thomas, Imelda May and Texas. A late arrival home but awake by 6.30am. I decided to drop into Farmoor Reservoir as the weather was to be good and changing Monday.

The water was calm when I arrived and still too early for most to be out in boats on F2. Almost the first bird up was a little grebe diving beside the valve tower.Little grebe A number of coot were diving alongside. A father and his two children were feeding ducks and a dozen or so juvenile black-headed gulls.

I headed for the causeway and soon picked out terns working along F1; there were 6 and appeared to be the black terns [#138] I'd missed all year. Three guys were seated by the first set of buildings, watching the terns; they appeared to be over towards the other bank but we all decided they were probably closer to the middle. I continued on but didn't see anything on the causeway, other than Canada and greylag geese. As I passed one group though, Dunlina juvenile dunlin fed at the waters edge.

I reached the end of the causeway and decided to make a circuit of F1 and hope to get closer to the black terns. As I went round they always seemed to be distant, as I had feared. I did come across calling chiffchaff and a number of willow warbler. As I sat and watched the tern I saw a couple of birds cutting across the surface of the water and took a couple of photos - it turned out to be a yellow wagtail [#139] chasing a common sandpiper; these sandpiper seem to get chased a bit and I remember seeing similar behaviour at Grimsbury Reservoir, although on that occasion it was pied rather than yellow wagtail. Black tern

I took a few record shots of the terns but they never got close enough for a proper shot.

As I passed the water treatment buildings I saw another (same?) yellow wagtail and a small flock of linnet. Ahead I also saw a kestrel on a fence but it moved ahead before I got close.

I had another look along the causeway before I headed for home, but the tern were still far out. I bought a coffee to get change for the car park barrier and headed home.

Sightings (30) included: black-headed gull, black tern, Black ternblue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chiffchaff, common sandpiper, coot, cormorant, dunlin, goldfinch, great crested grebe, grey heron, grey wagtail, greylag goose, kestrel, lesser black-backed gull, linnet, little grebe, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, pied wagtail, swallow, teal, tufted duck, willow warbler, woodpigeon and yellow wagtail.