Tuesday, 24 July 2012

22nd July 2012

With a bit of sunshine and warm weather punctuating the rainy season it was perhaps the best shot at Honey Buzzard in quite a while. A bird that has long evaded my list; I never quite got around to visiting the traditional sites and some of these have become less reliable in recent years.

Martyn and I headed north to Welbeck, near Clumber Park, Notts. Probably the nearest site from the West Midlands, although it too has also suffered a poor Honey Buzzard season.

On the way up, a call in at Croxall Lakes. Still no shore or wader scrapes. Here we noted 5 Oystercatcher, around 7 Common Terns, 1 Little Egret, 1 Peregrine, Kingfisher and a female Kestrel eating a vole.

Kestrel - image courtesy of Martyn Yapp

Common Tern - image courtesy of Martyn Yapp

All very nice, but we were hungry for more raptor action. Welbeck did not disappoint. On arrival at 10:00am a Red Kite was on show, high up. Despite the news that the HB season had been ‘diabolical’ with sightings only once or twice a week, we were lucky enough to get on to one around 10:15am. Although this was fairly distant, the distinctive profile of Honey Buzzard could be noted; a longer-winged, bulkier bodied and long-tailed Buzzard than Common.

Although the HB drifted up and out of sight and was not seen again, the action did not end there. A bit later in the morning an Osprey performed well over the pool and was mobbed by Buzzards and a Kestrel. 2 Sprarrowhawks were also noted.

Shortly after noon, we headed back towards Staffs – Blithfield in particular where the rest of the arvo was spent.

This time last year a visit to Blithfield provided a vast array of wader species (in Midlands terms), in comparison to what we have now (these included Greenshank, Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and a staggering 27 LRPs). Of course this is entirely due to the volume of water probably being twice what it was then! One good thing about this very hot weather, if it can just drop water levels a few inches we may yet see some wader return passage.

Noted were 3 Oystercatcher, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 46 Common Terns (only 1 juv).

The most interesting bird of the afternoon, was this 3rd CY Yellow-legged Gull. Note retained immature feathers. Many of the feathers looked bleached out and ready to drop. It will be interesting to see how it looks in a few weeks, should it stick about. The gull also had a rather stonking bill, of almost Caspo like proportions.

YLG - image courtesy of Martyn Yapp

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

6th & 7th July

Friday 6th July

Cannock Chase

Although the weather wasn't ideal, the rain had cleared up enough to tempt Martyn and myself into another crack at Nightjar.

It was a bit cool though and Nightjar were clearly taking longer to get going than on our previous visit. First churning was not heard this time until nearly 10pm. We saw 2 and this was brief, however it was a good view of a male.

Our night was made by roding Woodcock which showed very well. There were at least 2 birds, possibly even 3 and a scuffle was observed.

There was also a brief sighting of Long-eared Owl.

Other sightings throughout the evening included 2 Tree Pipit, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, a few Whitethroat and a Kestrel.

Saturday 7th July

As Martyn explains we began with an interesting stroll canalside. A very different way to see our great city, Birmingham's hinterland is atmospheric and steeped in industrial history.

Bird sightings included 2 Peregrines on BT Tower and 2 Grey Wagtails but sadly the nest of the latter seemed to have been disbanded.

Croxall Lakes, Staffs

On to a more traditional birding haunt. Still very high water levels all around meant it didn’t look good for waders, the only ones we saw were 5 Oystercatchers and even those were flying away.

Also of note 2 Shelduck, 3 Common Tern and 1 Little Egret. Warblers included 3 Reed Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat. Banded Damoiselle was on the wing.

Common Tern - image courtesy Martyn Yapp

Great Crested Grebe - image courtesy Martyn Yapp

There was an important military event going on nearby at Alrewas War Memorial, the crowds and traffic made it difficult for a loo stop and a look at the sightings book.

Nearby there was a family party of 4 Kestrels and a flock of 14 Lapwing and about 100 of these seemingly freshly emerged five-spotted burnet moths.

Five-spotted Burnet Moths
Whitemoor Haye

Here we had 4 Grey Partridge, a singing Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Kestrel.

On the pit there were 3 Oystercatchers, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Ringed plover 1 and 5 Common Tern.


As it had began raining there was a change of plan and we made Blithfield the final stop of the day. 

Disappointingly there was no Osprey. Notable birds here included 5 Common Sandpiper and 27 Common Tern, a redhead Goosander over the causeway, 2 Oystercatcher and a juvenile Black-headed Gull.