Saturday, 27 November 2010

Saturday 27th November 2010

Woke up to the first snow of the winter and its still only November. So its a chance for some snowy pictures from Westport as it was quite quiet there today.

And then it was off to Blithfield. I headed to Tad Bay first, but as I left the lane, the vehicle in front of me was struggling to get up the bank and along the track to Stansley Wood. I gave up immediately and decided to walk from the lane to the hide. Tad Bay was extremely quiet. I walked back to the car and stopped on the road at the bottom of Tad to see if three Swans I had seen flying over the wood had landed or not. There was no sign but there were two Foxes on the ice.

I then headed towards Branston GP's. On the way, I received a text from RB saying "Cambs then?!". As per usual with RB's cryptic texts I racked my brain to think why would I want to head to Cambridgeshire. Then I received the mega about the BAIKAL TEAL. Only a two hour journey, not much happening in Staffs, busy on Sunday so would have to wait all week - it was a no brainer. I set the sat nav and headed off. I was a bit worried at first as there were no updates coming through, but eventually the confirmation came that it was still present. All was going well and I was only about 20 mins away. Then I had another text off RB. Now if I'd thought about it and decided to leave it and not headed off to Cambs I would be looking at full frame pictures of a 1w BAIKAL TEAL now on the internet and regretting not going. But this time, I raced across the country for a hybrid. Brilliant - ain't birding good. And yes, as I was only 20 minutes away, I decided to carry on and see it.

Oh well, dust yourself off, there's always next weekend!

Monday, 22 November 2010

A trip to Fuerteventura

Fellow Clayhead gang member PJ recently visited Fuerteventura for the week and managed to get himself two ticks while he was out there. Here are just a few of his pictures that he took.

Fuerteventura Chat

Barbary Ground Squirrel

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Trumpeter Finches

Spectacled Warbler

Southern (Desert) Grey Shrike

Plain Tiger

On an entirely different matter, a little video you can check out in your spare time

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Saturday 20th November 2010 - Staffordshire

We thought we were going to struggle a bit in the fog this morning, but fortunately, it was clear at all the sites we visited, but we did drive through some quite heavy stuff en route. Many thanks to those in charge of Fog distribution today. First stop after Westport was at Belvide to see the redhead Smew. It was feeding off the dam in the far corner so it was showing quite distantly. Amazingly, this is my first Smew at Belvide since the long staying 1988 bird.

A simply stunning photo of the Smew at Belvide.

We then spent some time at the feeding station in the woods as a Brambling was feeding on the seed with the Chaffinches. I also managed to bag a Nuthatch and I managed a few pictures of when a swarm of Long-tailed Tits descended but the light was quite poor and the pictures arn't that sharp.

Next stop was at Whitemoor for the Whopper Swan again.

Then it was on to BGP's again, and the Little Egret was still present on the first pit, but everything was extremely jumpy again on the Sandy Pit. I was nowhere near this time when all the Lapwing and Goldies flew up. I also decided to walk through to the Water Park this time. There was quite a bit a stuff on the main lake, with good numbers of Gadwall and Wigeon present.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Saturday 13th November 2010

Only two of us today for the trip to Rochdale. PJ was jetting off to Fuerteventura and CJW was working all weekend. The reason for visiting Rochdale - well nearby Hollingworth Lake was for the PIED-BILLED GREBE that had been present all week. The last twitchable one was back in 1999 but my only previous one was way back in 1987 at Kenfig, nearly 24 years ago when I was a sweet 17 year old with a full head of hair. We visited Westport first and then headed up the M6 and M62, arriving at Hollingworth Lake at 09-40hrs. The Pied-billed Grebe was showing extremely well at first directly below the path, but it then moved further back to rest and preen. The second time it came close I was ready with my camera and managed to take a couple of acceptable shots. This Autumn is getting better as the weeks go by.

After spending a pleasant hour or so with the Pied-billed Grebe we headed back south to our next stop. A Great Northern Diver was at Astbury Mere. Now in the past, stuff has moved between Westport and Astbury, most notably my RING-NECKED DUCK from 2009 that spent a day at Astbury before returning to Westport when spooked by a large firework display. I decided it was best to check out the Great Northern Diver and see if there was anyway I could encourage it to fly the short distance south. Unfortunately, it was right at the back of the pool but I'm sure it will be at Westport in the next few days.

Our last stop of the day was in Leek for the 18 WAXWINGS that had been present for quite a while. I couldn't see much point in going for them before as it will only be a matter of time before they arrive in all the usual places in the city. Well these showed quite well for us and finished not a bad day at all.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Sunday 7th November 2010

Busy again on Saturday but I was allowed out on Sunday. Not many of the Clayheads Crew were available today, but as I was just leaving Westport, CJW turned up. As soon as I showed him my empty front passenger,I knew he wouldn't be able to resist a nice sit down to rest his weary, tired and weary legs. I planned to visit three sites today. We checked a few of the gravel-pits in the A38 corridor, searching for flocks of Golden Plover to look for the LESSER GOLDEN PLOVER reported recently. Unfortunately, we only saw them in flight. Good numbers of Tufted Duck and Coot were seen. Next stop was Whitemoor Haye for the WHOOPER SWAN that was with 203 Mute Swans. Then onto BGP's. Never know what you're going to get here and today was slightly disappointing. The Sandy Pit was very quiet and possibly had been subjected to some sort of disturbance already. We did have some more Golden Plovers flying around with one smaller bird in the flock (a Dunlin) plus a Ruff, seven Redshank and a Little Egret (my first here since 25th Sept). We also saw a late female Common Darter to go with a Red Admiral that we saw earlier in the day. Last stop of the day was at Blithfield to see the LITTLE RINGED PLOVER that has now become the latest ever record for the WMBC region. It was distant at times but I did manage one or two frame fillers of it plus a stunning video.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Sunday 31st October 2010 - Cornwall

With the clocks going back, there was mass confusion among the Clayheads as to what time we were setting out for the trip to see the AMERICAN BITTERN in Cornwall. GAS changed some of his time pieces and so after I had stood at the top of the street for ten minutes I rang him to see where he was. He wasn't sure whether it was 01-00hrs or 03-00hrs. CJW on the otherhand had been waiting an hour already as he had forgot to change his. In the end, we set off some 40 mins later than planned. The M5 was also shut around Weston-super-Mare and so we faced another delay. All this meant we were due to arrive at Trewey Common in Cornwall at 07-50hrs, rather later than we had anticipated. In the end, I managed to park up at 07-40hrs, and we raced into position with the rest of the crowd, eagerly waiting for the AMERICAN BITTERN first flight of the day. Unfortunately, there was no sign for the first hour, and I started to fear the worse. In fact, I knew we had already probably dipped. Trewey Common, Cornwall
We thought we were in with a chance when the cows started to walk into the pool area, but again nothing. Then, from out of nowhere, a "vet" suddenly appeared to have a closer look at the cows. He went over the fence and along the field and then ever so carefully he walked towards the grassy area and the cows. And bingo! The American Bittern promptly flew up from the grass directly in front of us and had a nice fly around before dropping into the pines. An amazing sight and all down to the "vet" looking at the cows. The whole crowd clapped and cheered the "vet". He'd done a good job. The "vet" finishes checking the cows GAS and CJW celebrate ticking the American Bittern
We waited for another view, but by 10-00hrs, we decided to head off. Our next target was for the GREEN HERON in the Lost Gardens of Heligan - a tick for CJW but mine and GAS's third in Britain. Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse and it was raining by the time we arrived. We had no news about the GREEN HERON on the pager, but the car park attendant informed us that it was still present, but on the furthest pool. CJW, who had not been out with us for a few weeks decided to get his boots on. I don't think he'd cleaned them since his last trip. We found the pool with no problem, and the 1w Green Heron showed a treat, despite the rain and the poor light. So I ended the day with just two birds written in my notebook, but what a crackin' pair! Chris celebrates his two ticks whilst sitting in a very posh hide The Hidden Valley in the Lost Gardens of Heligan