Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Lawford Heath

Having driven over Lawford Heath and through Rookery Farm and seen zilch yesterday, I returned this afternoon for another look. I parked by the old derelict barn and walked back down the road. Today was much better, with Yellowhammer (7); Corn Bunting (3); Meadow Pipit (9); House Sparrow (27); Chaffinch (10) and Collared Dove (8) around the outbuildings and garden trees.

I chatted with one of the farm workers about the birds and discussion turned to the numbers of birders visiting the farm area. (This was something Bob H mentioned earlier while we were at Draycote). It was mentioned that the farmers were getting a little annoyed over cars being parked in the cattle shed area and indeed some cars had parked on growing crop fields. While the road is public, the land alongside is private and goodwill is thinning. It was also mentioned that occupants at the farm were concerned about birders looking towards their windows. The sensible option is too park near the derelict barn and walk. It would be a shame if goodwill was lost.








Draycote Water

Well, again, what can I say? A day off and another dull, grey, misty morning! I arrived at Draycote at 0800 and started my perimeter walk. The drake Smew was soon located off Farborough Bank in the company of a pair of Goldeneye, intent on increasing their numbers! Toft Bay produced a drake Pintail heading across towards Biggin Bay where it was seen later. I met up with Bob H in Toft and continued with him around the remaining perimeter. Three Shoveler (2m, 1f) were located near Biggin Bay and as we approached the treatment works, a Little Egret circled above us before being lost to sight. Only one Great Northern Diver was seen distantly off the Inlet. Raptor wise, Kestrel (2), Buzzard (1) and Sparrowhawk (1), the latter being flushed fom the wooded area off Draycote Bank by the "brave" men with guns, intent on culling the local Pheasant population. Overall, not a bad bird count with 48 species recorded. The images below were taken with a high ISO due to the bad light!



Goldeneye - Intimate Moments!


Goldeneye - Intimate Moments


Smew


Smew


Smew


Goldeneye


Goldeneye


Todays Sightings:

Kestrel; Magpie; BH Gull; Rook; Carrion Crow; Blackbird; Robin; Green Woodpecker; Greenfinch; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Herring Gull; Lapwing; Dabchick; Cormorant; Tufted Duck; Mallard; LBB Gull; Coot; Moorhen; Gt Cr Grebe; Jackdaw; Goldeneye; Wood Pigeon; Canada Goose; Smew; Pied Wagtail; Chaffinch; Pintail; Fieldfare; Redwing; Gadwall; Teal; Wigeon; Pochard; Common Gull; Mute Swan; Dunnock; Song Thrush; Bullfinch; Goldfinch; Long Tailed Tit; Shoveler; Little Egret; Buzzard; Gt Sp Woodpecker; Sparrowhawk; G N Diver.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Nothing Special

Having just finished a night shift, I needed to go to my caravan storage site to check that all was well and no damage had been caused by the recent cold spell. Happily, all was well.

Returning, I decided that it would be nice to call in at Church Lawford to see if any Bewicks Swans were still about. One was soon located in the field south of the A428 with the Mute Swans (1230pm). The north side held large numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare. My next stop was Lawford Heath and Rookery Farm. This has never been a really good stop off for me, and as on previous visits, I saw zilch. I must be looking in the wrong place! The afternoon was bright so I continued on to Grandborough in the hope of seeing the Great Grey Shrike in good light, but none of the birders present had seen it, and it did not show in the two hours I spent looking. The Linnet flock numbered about 200 and careful viewing revealed that no other finches were concealed amongst them. Three Buzzard and two Kestrel were the only raptors seen, but it was mentioned that a single female Merlin was near the barn earlier. The few assembled birders were a friendly bunch and it was good to be able to explain the locations of the numerous good birds currently visiting our area. All bar one well known local birder, who marched passed us with a grunt, and who appeared to dislike our presence! The cold eventually won and I headed back to the car.

Not being one for landscape shots, I could not resist the small clump of trees in the ploughed field resplendent in silhouette.



Linnet


Linnet




Friday, 22 January 2010

Brandon Marsh - Rain, Gloom and more Rain!

Unfortunately, I have to take what the weather Gods deal me on my day off - today I was dealt rain, gloom and near darkness at times! With so many "good" birds in the area, it was a difficult decision as to where to go. Staying at home was not an option because it will be another week before I can get out again. I decided on Brandon Marsh, thinking at least the hides would offer some protection and I arrived in darkness at 0730 with steady rain falling, soon to get heavy. I thought (hoped) the light would improve but alas, it did not. As a result the record shots I took had to be at an ISO of 1600 and even then I only managed a speed of about 100 - 200! Not good, but better than nothing. Left at 1230, thoroughly soaked with a total of 43 bird species.

My aim was to locate the Green Winged Teal which was initially elusive on River Pool but after about an hour showed well. Sitting in East Marsh Hide with John W and a few other friendly birders, attention was drawn to a Bittern flying into the reeds on the left from Newlands. It was too quick for a flight shot, but after half an hour, it took a slow walk across the channel in what can only be classed as gloom! All the usual ducks were on East Marsh with a male and two female Goldeneye, two Snipe and an obliging Cettis Warbler were of note.



Green Winged Teal with Common Teal


Green Winged Teal


Green Winged Teal


Green Winged Teal with Common Teal


Green Winged Teal


Mute Swan


Mute Swan


Bittern


Bittern


Bittern


Bittern


Bittern


(More "gloomy" images on my website - see link opposite)


Todays Sightings:

Robin; Blackbird; Redwing; Mallard; Mute Swan; Lapwing; Canada Goose; Tufted Duck; Carrion Crow; Wood Pigeon; Jackdaw; Shoveler; BH Gull; Cormorant; Coot; Magpie; Pheasant; Moorhen; Gt Cr Grebe; Teal; Wigeon; Goldeneye; Common Gull; Blue Tit; Gt Tit; Green Woodpecker; Grey Heron; Goldfinch; Dabchick; Cettis Warbler; Water Rail; Pochard; Jay; Long Tailed Tit; Green Winged Teal; Chaffinch; Gadwall; LBB Gull; Buzzard; Dunnock; Coal Tit; Bittern Snipe.


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Belated Bewicks - Church Lawford 12th January 2010












(More images on my website - see link opposite)


I had not seen Bewicks Swan for well over five years and not in Warwickshire. As fate dealt its card, I was travelling from Coventry to Rugby on Monday afternoon but chose the A45 route. Had I taken my normal route along the A428, I would have stumbled across John J & Colin P observing at least 17 Bewicks Swans in the fields near Church Lawford.

Not to miss this opportunity, I was out at Church Lawford this morning before first light in the hope that they would still be there. The A428 is not a road to be complacent with, very busy and few safe parking spots. As light improved, the only swan movements were Mute and no sign of any Bewicks, having searched both sides of the River Avon. I returned to the A428 where I met Pete H and Tim M who were not having any better luck. We left at about 0845, slightly disappointed.

Not long after I got home, RBA informed of two Bewicks Swans within the Mute Swan group. I was due at work at 1200, so a quick wash and shave and I was back at Church Lawford. Ironically, the same three of us had returned and soon located the swans. As we watched and took a few pictures, we were drawn to a female Merlin trying its luck with the finch flocks.

Most of the images above were taken with my own camera lens set up. Pete H was kind enough to allow me use of his ?800mm lens. I will let you decide which images were taken with which lens!

RBA later reported the return of 17 Bewicks, nice, but I am happy with my two!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A Natural Birthday Present

Standing in snow on a wild, exposed footpath looking into a blizzard is not the way most people would celebrate their birthday! However, the opportunity to touch base with a Great Grey Shrike, my first in Warwickshire, could not be missed. I arrived at the Grandborough footpath to find several cars already parked and a number of birders (Richard M, Colin P & Dave C) on their way back having seen the Shrike (plus Merlin and Barn Owl which eluded me). Deciding to leave my camera in the car due to the conditions (always a mistake!) and a brisk walk for about three hundred yards had me in the right spot, meeting Jeff W and later Bob D. The Shrike was soon located on the wires but (sensibly?) disappeared during snow flurries. What a super bird! Entertainment was also provided by flocks of Linnet, which must have numbered 400+. Only raptor seen was a Sparrowhawk. Unfortunately, the Shrike took flight over the set-aside field in the direction of Hill Road at about 1045. Hopefully it will return.

Messages from RBA are indicating the Shrike is back (though distant - it was hardly close this morning!) this afternoon.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Draycote Water & Long Lawford



I seem to rely on "windows of opportunity" at the moment, and when one opened this afternoon, I headed down to Draycote for a couple of hours. Meeting a couple of birders near the visitor centre, I was informed that a Black Necked Grebe had been seen earlier but had not been relocated. Disappointing as I did not see one last year. A brisk walk to the Valve Tower and back soon had me touching base with two Great Northern Divers (still distant) and the drake Smew. Just past the sailing club, I was able to get to grips with an obliging Kestrel, before meeting Bob D and others, who confirmed my fears that the BN Grebe had gone.



Kestrel


Kestrel


Teal


Smew


Smew


Dabchick



A message from RBA informed me that the Great White Egret was again in the Long Lawford area, so it would have been rude not to pay a visit. Initially I could not locate it near the A428 so headed for Clayhill Lane where I again met Bob D. Bob informed me that the Egret had flown into the fields near the West St footpath so I guided him to this area. The Egret was again located in the stream but as always was very nervous and soon took flight. I managed a few "record" shots - disappointing when compared to those taken before Christmas.









"Angel of Light"


Todays Sightings (Draycote):

Robin; Magpie; Blackbird; Wood Pigeon; Rook; Carrion Crow; BH Gull; Mallard; Tufted Duck; Coot; LBB Gull; Pied Wagtail; Lapwing; Great Northern Diver; Dabchick; Teal; Gt Cr Grebe; Herring Gull; Smew; Goldeneye; Cormorant; Gadwall; Moorhen; Goosander; Common Gull; Canada Goose; Grey Heron; Wigeon; Pochard; Jackdaw; Ruddy Duck; Blue Tit; GBB Gull; Kestrel; Dunnock; Bullfinch; Fieldfare; Chaffinch; Gt Tit.

Great White Egret (Long Lawford).
















Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year - 2010 wow! I was working until midnight last night but luckily finished on time, before all the "hobbledehoys" got going!

Unlike some of my birding friends, I will not be doing a review of 2009. Time and dates do not really mean much too me - I just get older! I am sure 2010 will not be much different to previous years. I do not make resolutions - pointless task! However, I have decided to just let the year unfold and take what comes. If I see and/or photograph birds, great, if I do not, then so be it. I will make no effort to try and keep up with those with more time. My job is stressful enough - I want my hobby to be stress free, otherwise there will be no point in pursuing it.

My new birding year will not start until 4th January. Good luck to you all.