Thursday, 31 May 2012

Peak District

An RSPB trip last Sunday started off at the Coombes Valley reserve in Staffordshire.
Here we saw nesting Pied Flycatchers and Great spotted Woodpeckers. A singing male Redstart showed very well and Garden and Willow Warblers were present all over the reserve, a Willow Tit visited the feeders but on the whole bird numbers seemed much lower than as has been the case in previous years.
 After lunch we visited nearby Danebower Quarry just over the border in Cheshire. No Ring Ousels this year but several Wheatears, a pair of Stonechats, a Curlew and a couple of sqabbling male Red Grouse who seemed quite oblivious of our prescence and  at on point came to within 30 or 40 yards away.

Red Grouse
A stop at Axe Edge as usual produced several more Red Grouse and a couple more Curlew but not too much else.

For our final destination it was decided we would drop in to the Middleton Moor reserve near Buxton as a few interesting passage waders had  appeared here in the last few weeks.
 This was an area of abandoned mines that had been allowed to flood. It was easy to see why birds would stop off here as it was the only suitable wader habitat out on the top of the moors, probably for miles around.
 Oystercatchers,Curlews, Ringed Plovers, Shelduck and a couple of Wheatear were seen along with more normal waterfowl but alas no sign of the recent Temmincks Stint or Curlew Sandpipers 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

He must have followed me home. Can we keep him ?

Having seen probably a hundred or more Cattle Egrets in Menorca over the last couple of weeks, it was very much a surprise to receive a text on Saturday morning to say Rob Hill had found one at Manor Farm.
 These birds do seem to be gaining a foothold in Britain but as I hadn't seen one here for a couple of years -oddly enough only a mile or so from where this one had pitched up - I decided to give this one a look.
 Initially I managed to walk past the bird (my excuse is that it must have been down one of the dips in the sheep field !) but I eventually found it feeding out in the open with a small flock of large Gulls, who would occasionally give it a bit of grief.
 This site is looking fantastic at the moment following all the recent rains but unfortunately I didn't have the time to have a decent look around.
 An Egyptian Goose also in the Sheep Field was my first in the county this year.

Cattle Egret

Monday, 21 May 2012

Menorca Holiday

Just back from a family holiday of two weeks in Menorca.
Audouins Gull
Will do a full post when I find time as I've loads of work to catch up on now I'm back and the weather has finally bucked up.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

New Wader Hotspot.

All this rain has at least been good for something.
The River Ouse at Sherington Bridge is one of my regular stop-offs when I'm working in Lathbury and occaisionally there will be something good to be seen like a Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail or Goosander. Quite often there are Otter footprints and spraints under the bridge.
 The flooding of this area has just recently produced an excellent habitat for wading birds.
A customary check yesterday afternoon came good with my first ever Buckinghamshire Grey Plover, three Sanderling and a Little-ringed Plover. Subsequent observers also noted a Common Sandpiper.
 This morning the waters had gone down somewhat and all the birds had unsurprisingly departed, a lone Lapwing being the only wader on site.
However a quick look in at lunchtime when last nights deluge had once again started to flood the area again produced the goods with a summer-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit and a Ringed Plover.
 It's a shame this area can't stay like this permanently as 7 species of wader in a couple of days isn't a bad return.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Late !

Well at least this wet weather has allowed me to twitch a few semi-local birds.
For the second time within a week I found myself off to Oxfordshire. After successfully managing to see a Dotterel near Banbury last week, this time I headed to a place called Standlake Meadows just the other side of Oxford.
 Here a small flock of White Storks seemed to have settled since Sunday after being tracked around the country after initially being seen in North Wales.
 There were six birds which is the largest group of birds in Britain for quite some time so I thought them well worth a visit.
 I checked they were still present before I set off and with Paul keeping me informed I was quite hopeful of seeing them.
 However as I arrived on site I met a Guy who was just leaving who uttered those immortal words that every birder dreads to hear 'You've just missed them Mate. They flew off about half an hour ago!'
 This was not all, as they had flown off one of the birds had unfortunately flown into some power lines and had been killed.
 I didn't expect them to return but still decided to take a walk down the banks of the River Thames. The river was badly swollen and wellies were essential.
 Lots of Whitethroats could be heard and a Red Kite drifted over but the Storks did not return.

Just the corpse of the deceased bird to remind us they had been here.