Saturday, 26 April 2008

Willington and Drakelow

Friday 25th April.

Continuing my good run at Uttoxeter Quarry, a visit after work produced:

2 Arctic Tern
3 Dunlin
1 Common Sandpiper
6 Oystercatcher

Saturday 26th April.

4 - 4 for the mighty Brewers today against Exeter. Now for the play-offs, and just two games away from Wembley. Surely it can't be done against Cambridge can it?

I spent a few hours before the game at Willington and Drakelow. Lovely day today, finally it felt like spring!

Quite a few butterflies along meadow lane must have thought the same thing. Plenty of Orange Tip and Peacock, plus a Green-Veined White and a Brimstone. A good selection of warblers along the lane as well now, including Lesser Whitethroat.

I really like the look of the work that's been done at Willington. With a total of 41 different species, they must think the same as well. In addition to the warblers, highlights included 5 Common Tern, calling Cuckoo, Redshank, Oystercatcher, 3 Buzzard, 6 Shelduck, 20 Cormorant.

A bit of a rush round Drakelow next, in order to get to the match. A good selection, not much out of the ordinary. The main highlight was a Raven perched on steelwork of the old power station site.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Couple of Visits to Uchiter

Not gone far this weekend. Just a couple of visits to Uttoxeter Quarry. Done pretty well though, with a good selection of waders.

Saturday 19th April.

1 Greenshank
4 Common Sandpiper
9 Snipe
1 Yellow Wagtail
3 White Wagtail

Sunday 20th April.

7 Dunlin
1 Ringed Plover
7 Common Sandpiper
1 Green Sandpiper
1 Snipe
2 White Wagtail

If it can continue to produce migrant waders it's going to save me a fortune in petrol! Just want it to warm up a bit now. Then I can get some spring woodland walks in.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Day of the Osprey

13th April. Blithfield Reservoir, 12:30 - 16:00.

1 Osprey at 13:00 between Ten Acre bay and St. Stephens bay, quite close to the shore. It looked like it was trying to hunt, but was continually mobbed by Oystercatchers. Then took off towards the causeway, and didn't see it again.

This really is the world's worst photo of an Osprey (the dot in the centre), but hey it's my blog. The Oystercatchers are giving chase (the two dots up and right a bit).

Also around Blithers today were 2 Common Sandpiper, 4 White Wagtail, 1 House Martin, 3 Blackcap, 3 Pintail, 1 Goosander, 1 Shelduck.

I suppose I now ought to add in the disclaimer, as appears on numerous occasions. Access to Blithfield is by permit only (apart from the causeway and watery lane). Trespassers will be tied up in piano wire.

Uttoxeter Quarry, 16:30.

Then as approaching the quarry, what's this thing hovering over? Osprey again! You name it they mobbed it! Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Lapwing. It eventually moved a bit further away towards the River Dove, and then took a dive right down as if to catch a fish. Just couldn't see where it went afterwards though.

Also at the quarry today were 2 Common Sand, 3 Green Sand, 1 Dunlin, 3 Goosander, 2 White Wagtail, 4 Buzzard.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Uttoxeter Quarry

After waiting most of the day for showers to clear, had an early tea, then over to Uttoxeter Quarry:

1 Common Sandpiper
2 Green Sandpiper
1 Oystercatcher
1 Wheatear
2 Goosander
2 Shelduck

Also 6 Swallows over JCB at Rocester. Also saw a rather intruging sign when driving through Hollington. "Breakfast with Jonny Wilkinson" this Friday. Is that for real? Or is it a play along the same lines as "An Evening with Gary Lineker"?

Saturday, 5 April 2008

World tour of Wales, part III (Rhayader and Elan Valley)

Tuesday 1st April.

Bright and sunny today, but very windy. I've wanted to visit Gigrin Farm for a long time now, and today was the day. The farm doesn't open until the afternoon so I had a morning to kill. That time was spent at Gilfach Farm nature reserve.

It really is a beautiful spot, and a lovely walk on the nature trail as well. Jay and Sparrowhawk were in the woods along the River Marteg. Goldcrest and Willow Tit in an area of gorse. Red Kite, Buzzard, Raven and Kestrel overhead. Then heading back to the car, a Dipper was in the Marteg next to the Otter hide.

With still a little time to spare before Gigrin, I did a little reconnaissance work on the Elan valley reservoirs. To find the best viewpoints from the various car parks. I think the best one is between Caban Coch and Garreg Ddu. A rather odd find at Garreg Ddu were 3 drake Mandarins.

Time to get over to Gigrin. I arrived about an hour before feeding time. It is good to watch the build up of birds the nearer to feeding time. The crows wait patiently in the next field, Buzzards and Ravens wait in the trees, and the Red Kites just hang overhead in the air.

I counted 61 Kites before feeding time, but during feeding time there's no way you could count them. There could have been easily 200 Kites there.

I don't really have the equipment or the patience for wildlife photography, but I thought I'd give it a try here. Most photos of the Kites turned into either pictures of grass or sky. Or I'd zoomed in so much, the pictures were so blurred that even fellow blogger the blurred birder would struggle to make out what they are! Here are some of my bestest ones:

Unfortunately I didn't see the White Kite, but I wasn't disappointed at all. Gigrin has to be one of the great bird spectacles we have in this country.

Back in Rhayader in the evening for a couple of pints and some pub grub. One Red Kite flew over the centre of town. This reminded me of watching Black Kites flying over Delhi. However, that's where comparisons between Rhayader and Delhi most definitely end!

Wednesday 2nd April.

Nowhere near as windy, but a horrible drizzle around all morning. I just explored the Elan Valley reservoirs today, and hope that the rain will stop. Two Wheatears were around the steep slope next to Claerwen Reservoir car park. Along that slope there is a piece of rock, that through binoculars looks exactly like a Ring Ouzel. However, with the scope it was just a piece of rock, it really was uncanny though.

Onto the hide of Dol-y-Mnach Reservoir next, where the was a drake Goosander but not much else.

The drizzle didn't stop until I reached the Cymystwyth end of the mountain road towards Aberystwyth. When I realised it had stopped I then worked my way back towards the reservoirs, finding three more Wheatears, a Stonechat and a very bedraggled Buzzard along the mountain road back.

Plenty of Red Kites, Buzzard and Raven around the reservoirs. I had hoped there may be Goshawk around but no sign. Also Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron and Cormorant.

That was pretty much all I wanted to cover in my trip, so that's all folks. I ended up with a total of 103 bird species. At least I didn't end up on 99, then I really would have been kicking myself about the Black Grouse!

I also wanted to get back home on the Thursday, just to make sure my P45 had arrived. Which it has done, hurrah. I can start my new job on Monday now.

Friday, 4 April 2008

World tour of Wales, part II (west coast-ish)

Monday 31st March.

Time to leave Anglesey now, and head towards Rhayader in mid-Wales. With a few stops on the way of course. The first being the pair of Ospreys at Glaslyn near Porthmadog. They had arrived a few days previously, and were having a well-earned rest after migration.

I then visited Ynys-Hir RSPB reserve. I last visited this reserve in 1985! I'll try not to make it another 23 years for my next visit. Like at Conwy, another good selection. In amongst 42 different species were:

1 Common Sandpiper
1 Little Egret
1 Raven

Also a nice couple of Brimstone butterflies enjoying the spring sunshine.

There had been a Cattle Egret seen recently at a village called Llandre, near Aberystwyth. I had a scan of the fields surrounding the village, no sign unfortunately. So onto Rhayader, check into the guest house, and explore the pubs!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

World tour of Wales, part I (North Coast and Anglesey)

Saturday 29th March.

It wouldn't be a holiday without a cock-up would it? I woke up too late to make the RSPB's Black Grouse watch at Llandegla. Perhaps I should've had a night in Wrexham or Llangollen for this. When I realised I wouldn't make it in time I went back to bed for a while.

A few hours later, I headed off to Conwy RSPB reserve. Not long after arriving the rain absolutely threw down, but bird highlights in a total of 45 species included:

1 Swallow
4 Sand Martin
1 Chiffchaff
1 Goldeneye
1 calling Water Rail
1 Little Egret

No point taking any photos today. Which is a shame because you get a very picturesque view from Conwy. Of the estuary, Conwy Castle and the edge of Snowdonia in the background.

After some lunch, the promenade at Llanfairfechan was the next port of call. I have been here before a couple of years ago, to see the Black Scoter. I don't think it's been seen this winter just gone. But while using an information board to shelter from the rain, I did manage:

1 Sandwich Tern
3 Red-Throated Diver
1 Razorbill
3 Guillemot

With the rain still pouring down, I was just after anywhere with a hide! Towards Bangor is The Spinnies at Aber Ogwen. Not a lot here really, nice close views of a Snipe and a pair of Teal.

When I decided to cross the Britannia Bridge onto Anglesey, the rain started clearing. So I decided before I check into my hotel, to get over to Penrhos Coastal Park to see the Ring-Billed Gull from the car park. It showed really well, and with an immature Common Gull for a good comparison. As well as a more conspicous dark patch on the bill, Ring-Billed has a much thicker bill, and a squarer shaped head.

Sunday 30th March.

A lovely sunny day today for a tour of some birding sites on Anglesey. Firstly to South Stack RSPB.

From Ellins Tower were:

pair of Peregrine
3 Chough
many Raven, including a group of 5 together. Real Ravens at the tower!

Next on the agenda was a search of the Black Guillemots in Holyhead harbour. These took a bit of finding. I eventually found eight Black Guillemots from the Celtic Gateway footbridge between the main street and the railway station. Quite surprising that they were so close in the harbour. I would have thought they would be out towards the breakwater.

Another scan of Penrhos Coastal Park next. The Ring-Billed Gull was still there, as well as:

1 Slavonian Grebe
113 Pale-Bellied Brent Geese
1 Little Egret

Over to Cemlyn Bay and Lagoon next:

Despite the nuclear power station, it's a lovely spot:

1 Black-Tailed Godwit
64 Golden Plover
1 Little Egret
8 Goldeneye

Then to Valley Wetlands RSPB. 10 Pochard for the purpose of adding to a trip list. As it was my first visit to Anglesey, there was one touristy thing I had to do. Now then, what was the place called again............