Sunday, 24 February 2019

Draycote Water :: 24 February 2019

I looked at Twitter on Saturday night and found that three Slavonian grebe had been found at Draycote Water so I heading there after breakfast. ChiffchaffSetting off, a chiffchaff [#95] sang and worked it's way along the edge of the car park.

From the Visitors Centre I could see a birder looking out at some birds on the corner of Farnborough Dam. I walked along, noting the rise in little grebe numbers since I was last there.

When I reached the corner it hadn't been the slavonian grebes. I decided to continue on and make a full circuit, despite having only paid for a couple of hours parking. A good view of a fast moving goldcrest was the highlight of the far side. Still a number of goldeneye and goosander present.

Relatively quiet in bird numbers which I thought surprising at this time of year.

Sightings (31) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, canada goose, carrion crow, chiffchaff, common gull, coot, cormorant, dunnock, gadwall, goldcrest, goldeneye, goosander, great crested grebe, great tit, greenfinch, greylag goose, lesser black-backed gull, little grebe, long-tailed tit, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, pied wagtail, reed bunting, robin, rook, teal, tufted duck and woodpigeon.

Rutland Water :: 21 February 2019

Half term at Charlotte's school so I took another day off to spend some time with her - but birding! There were some reports on Twitter of several smew at Rutland Water and so we set off there early. On arrival we went into the Anglian Water Bird Watching Centre and picked up coffees and paid for our permits. I then left Charlotte for an hour as I had to take a conference call with clients in the Middle East. Egyptian gooseWhen the call was over we set out, heading north towards Lagoon 4.

On the way we added egyptian goose [#91] and heard both great spotted and green woodpeckers but couldn't get our bins on them. We stopped off at several hides adding great white egret [#92] to the year list; a single stonechat displayed to our left. We bumped into another birder with a camera and discussed the smew - as a result we dropped into the hide on the southern end of Lagoon 4.

Looking out across the water, everything was very distant but after a few minutes scanning the surface Great white egretfound two and then four redhead smews [#93]. I took a few record shots but they never came close enough to get a decent shot, nor did we see any males.

Onto the Bittern Hide, overlooking Lagoon 3, we met the birding photographer and he said that he'd gone into the Plover Hide and had been lucky to get good views of a pair of smew close to the hide. As there was nothing special where we left and headed to the Plover Hide.

We could see the smew through some distant reeds to our right and eventually they swam out far enough for some better record shots. A juvenile peregrine flew from island to island, eventually landing in the waters edge. SmewIt was soon joined by an adult. Looking back round the smew had become two pairs and both started swimming in our direction, eventually giving us a decent swim-past.

Nothing showed at any of the other hides as we made our way back to the Centre.

After a spot of lunch we headed to the southern hides and on our walk, added a pair of bullfinches [#94]. We got to the Harrier Hide and had three stonechat in distant bushes. The guy we shared the hide with had been down the path and said there was nothing of note warranting us going further. It was getting late so we headed back to be sure we were back in SmewBanbury to collect Eilidh from the train.

Sightings (54) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, bullfinch, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, collared dove, common gull, coot, cormorant, dunnock, egyptian goose, gadwall, goldeneye, goosander, great black-backed gull, great crested grebe, great tit, great white egret, greenfinch, grey heron, greylag goose, house sparrow, jackdaw, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, little egret, little grebe, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, oystercatcher, peregrine, pheasant, pochard, red kite, reed bunting, robin, rook, shelduck, shoveler, smew, sparrowhawk, starling, stock dove, stonechat, teal, tufted duck, woodpigeon and wren.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Sandbach Flashes & Wybunbury Moss NNR :: 18 February 2019

Back from a working visit to the USA, we popped up to see our youngest at Keele University. While there we had a short walk around Wybunbury Moss National Nature Reserve and also Sandbach Flashes SSSI. Goldcrest

Our accommodation lay on the very edge of the Wybunbury Moss National Nature Reserve and so, at the end of our first day we popped down. Wybunbury Moss is a rare example of a "schwingmoor" or floating peat bog. This comprises a raft of peat, in some places only one metre in thickness, floating on a lake which itself is 13 metres in depth. The floating nature of the Moss is thought to have been created by the subsidence of underlying salt-bearing rocks, sometime in the last 5000 years.

As we went round there were a number of crow species, and a buzzard that flew off, landed ahead, and then flew off again each time we approached. Water railA pair of noisy mistle thrush flew in and out fir trees. An interesting place but not abundant in bird species and it wasn't until we got back up to our accommodation that we came across a pair of goldcrest, and a pair of nuthatch. As the light disappeared we heard a tawny owl towards the trees on the reserve.

The following morning we left Ailsa to wake up and chill as she had a stinking cold. We drove the 9.5 miles to Sandbach Flashes and found a couple of cars already parked up on the verge. Black-tailed godwitThree people stood with scopes viewing the water from the Elton Hall Flash viewing area. From the car we looked at the water on the other side of the road spotting redshank, redwing and fieldfare. At the gate to the path leading to the viewing area, there was a very friendly water rail showing well; you couldn't get much better views.

From the viewing area we added a single close black-tailed godwit; eventually we had 8 on a very distant split. In front of them we had a mixed group of 10 m&f goosander. There were very large numbers of wigeon on the water and particularly in the fields beside. A flock of lapwing rose with gulls when spooked.

PintailOn a distant bank we spotted a couple of sleeping pintail which eventually took to the water and swam with another two (3m&1f). Between them, and some teal and wigeon, a group of 14 snipe skulked.

I'm sure we will return when we visit our daughter again - passing time while she is at lectures.

Sightings at Sandbach Flashes (44) included: black-headed gull, black-tailed godwit, blackbird, blue tit, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, collared dove, common gull, coot, cormorant, dunnock, fieldfare, goosander, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, grey heron, grey wagtail, herring gull, house sparrow, jackdaw, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, pheasant, pintail, redshank, redwing, robin, shelduck, shoveler, snipe, song thrush, starling, teal, tree sparrow, tufted duck, water rail, wigeon and woodpigeon.

Additional to these, at Wybunbury Moss were: buzzard, goldcrest, greenfinch, mistle thrush, nuthatch and wren.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

RSPB Otmoor :: 03 February 2019

Another cold day (4°C) but it felt warmer with the sun out. There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground but it Marsh harrierhadn't stopped people turning out; the car park was almost full.

All the usual birds round to the feeding station and then to the hide. A flock of linnets flew off at the slightest movement; these were joined by reed bunting, a few chaffinch and a couple of yellowhammer. In the hide a couple mentioned that they had seen a short eared owl at the first screen and so we headed there next. No dice ... but we did have female marsh harrier and a fly through peregrine. Off to the left of the screen water rail called. Ahead and right I saw what I thought may be a water rail in flight, low to the water, but too far away to be sure. Stonechat

Down to the second screen and we saw mute swans ice breaking - really strange noise. A pair of stonechats continually dipped into the water at the edge of the pool and sat on overhanging twigs and stalks.

Sightings (31) included: blackbird, blue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, coot, cormorant, dunnock, gadwall, great tit, grey heron, kestrel, linnet, mallard, marsh harrier, moorhen, mute swan, peregrine, pheasant, pied wagtail, red kite, reed bunting, robin, rook, shoveler, stonechat, teal, tufted duck, woodpigeon and yellowhammer.

WkWT Brandon Marsh :: 02 February 2019

Another cold one. This time a visit to WkWT Brandon Marsh - Charlotte came with, and asked for somewhere with a cafe and not to go round a large expanse of water. This fitted the bill. Whooper swan

We started round New Hare's Covert to the Wright hide, but other than tits and a few chaffinch we didn't see much. A buzzard low over the golf course and a few very persistent robins were all that caught the eye.

Round at the Wright Hide, we were disappointed by the extent of the ice covering the East Marsh Pool. Some birds on the ice but most on the scrape or on the few pools formed in the ice. In the distance we spotted the two whooper swans [#83] which we thought might not be visible from the East Marsh Hide as they would be obscured by a reed bank.

Sure enough, the whoopers were indeed obscured when we got to the EM Hide. Just the usual gathering of ducks and geese, so after a hopeful wait to see if the bittern showed, we moved on.

Two fieldfare over but nothing to add. Back to the Visitors Centre for a sandwich.

Sightings (36) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, coal tit, common gull, coot, cormorant, dunnock, fieldfare, gadwall, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, greylag goose, lapwing, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, nuthatch, pheasant, pied wagtail, reed bunting, robin, shelduck, shoveler, song thrush, teal, tufted duck, whooper swan, woodpigeon and wren.