Sunday, 26 December 2010

The BIG One!!!!

Its here, the year ender...........

unlike last year, i will not chose the best birds in an award ceremony but will instead do a round-up of the best birds ( or highlights) of each month.
so here goes...


the year got off to a blinding start, but not on particuillary rare species..

the first day of the year was spent at slimbridge wwt and by the end of the day 77 species were up, Pintails being my personal bird of the day, followed by the white-fronted geese and huge flock of wigeon.

A nice time on the patch also, with record totals of goosander and reed bunting, as well as a multitude of snipe.

There are 2 major standout birds in the month though, the stunningly close BITTERN at hurcott pool, which was just amazing, totally awstruck... and an iceland gull ( talk about that later)

A GOSHAWK over upton warren, had me really exited at the time but however it does not stand out as one of my highlights, i really dont know why??

A patch first in the form of a pair of little grebe were very much appreciated.

Stubbers green for a gulls day was superb and led me into gulls more this year, a 2w ICELANDGULL topping the month off, as did the 2nd showing of the 3w CASPIAN GULL amongs a wide range of other gulls.

the last day of the month was done in style, with a huge patch bonanza, goosander, marsh tit, little grebe and a huge record sized flock of LESSER REDPOLL got the month rounded off nicely...

(Caspian gull at stubbers green)


trimpley Res was the first real birding of the month with CROSSBILLS and a personal site tick in a pochard.

but this was by far eclipsed the next day when i found a drk WIGEON on the patch, one of my favorite birds on the patch where there is very limited open water. add to this the continual presence of a new record of lesser redpoll and marsh tit i was having quite a good time on the patch, and i think i comented at the time saying somthing like 'it has never been this good' and it really hasent.

a visit to my west mids patch ( sheepwash UP) similarly had a large gathering of lesserpoll and a few goosander.

and the year truily kicked off when i twitched a GREAT GREY SHRIKE at morton baggot, which although was a right pain in the arse with the distances it was seen, but it is still one of the birds i remember.. a merlin the same day was also a highlight.

But by far my personal highlight goes to the patch when on 14th it produced a Drk GADWALL on the gadwall lake (named after the sighting), the bird was one of the highlights of my patch year, my patch has never been good for ducks so to get this bird and the wigeon was unbelievable, the gadwall remained untill the 21/03 at least.

A superbly showy LITTLE EGRET at the warren for a couple of weeks was amazing, add to that the wintering bittern it makes a good day, and the warren produced again when on 27th it produced 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARD

(Great Grey Shrike- Morton Baggot)

(Gadwall- The Patch)

(Little Egret- Upton Warren)


An active time of year but again the 1st birding of the month out was the best, a 'big day out' with Martyn Yapp ( aka blurred birder) turned into a 4 county marathon, visiting worcestershire, warwickshire, staffordshire and west midlands county. with a grand total of 73 species.
the highlights are scattered over the counties by Draycote Water had some amazing birds. SMEW, GREAT NOTHERN DIVER, both of which shown very well but the Grimly SLAVONIAN GREBE was outrageously close, i couldve scooped it out the water...

Tamworth was the location that held my favorite bird, 3 WAXWINGS and a return to Stubbers Green saw me seeing the ICELAND GULL for the 2nd time.

the patch was still on fire with great crested grebes and tufted duck along with the Gadwall.

BITTERN was seen again at the warren and 2 LITTLE EGRETS had now taken over, and the years first AVOCETS when 4 birds were seen on the 20th
My first 'summer' migrant was a LRP at sheepwash UP on 26th, and i spent a day in an undisclosed woodland on 28th seeing LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER and TAWNEY OWL.

(Slavonian Grebe- Grimley)

(Smew- Draycote Water)

(Great Nothern Diver- Draycote Water)


most of the month was spent abroad, due to a 2 week holiday in turkey which transpired to end as 3 weeks due to the icelandic volcano.

but some amazing birds were noted, infact to many to mention, highlights being stunning views of Male Ruppell's warbler, and getting up close and personal with Black winged stilts, little stint and Kentish plover on a beachside pool, one of the memories that will remain with me forever.

rather than just writing a list i will put a link to the post so new readers can have a browse at what i saw:

(Ruppell's Warbler)

(Little Stint and Kentish Plover)

(Black Winged Stilts)

(Black Winged Stilts, Kentish Plover and Little Stint)


The weekend after arriving back from turkey i was back at the warren on the all dayer Getting a 1st summer MEDDITTERANEAN GULL, A pair of RINGED PLOVER (which took a dislike to the local LRP) and a female RUDDY SHELDUCK. 2 WHEATEAR were seen at shenstone a few days after in a quick snatch and grab tick, also yellowhammer.

the patch was STILL on fire adding DUNLIN to the patch list while logging Common tern and red legged partridge on the same day.

the highlight of the whole month however was Finding my own 2nd summer MEDDITTERANEAN GULL at upton warren on the 15th, one of the best birding moments this year.

A sustained presence of common tern on the patch was added to by reed warbler and reed bunting, and upton again produced on 22nd with a CUCKOO and a GRASSHOPPER WARBLER, however this was a painful day as i missed a spoonbill by a mindnumbing 5 mins!!!!!!!

the last few days of the month were in wales which will be treated in the next month:

(1st sum MED GULL)

(2nd sum MED GULL)


AS stated above the early part of the month was spent in wales in pembrokeshire, but the planned trip to skomer island didnt happen so it was only mainland birding.

RED KITES were logged on the way down and oddly a little egret was seen near camarthen on the river. the usual coast birds were logged and seabirds were in plenty, CHOUGH being the highlight on stackpole head, a Tip off from Tim Jones about a nearby GREAT EGRET were adknoledged and after a long time we finally located the bird on the estury at lawrenny, however distant, a single whimbrlew was a year tick, a red kite was later seen over upton warren upton our return and on Fathers day for the 2nd year running a stunning female RED NECKED PHALAROPE was found and we were able to watch the bird at abit closer range than the previous year. a BLACK TAILED GODWIT on the 26th was followed on the 27th by a stunning flock of 5 icelantica race BLACK TAILED GODWITS( and the juv was still at the flashes), A HOBBY and a pair of eclipse GARGANEY!!



(Red Necked Phalarope)


Again BLACK TAILED GODWITS featured heavilly in this month, a flock of 3 LITTLE EGRET at upton was part of a purple patch with 17 GREEN SAND, 5 REDSHANK, GREENSHANK and a single adult BLACK TAILED GODWIT amongst the CURLEW:

upton warren kept bringing them in with 4 DUNLIN AND 3 more BLACK TAILED GODWIT, HOBBY were seen throughout the month sporadically, on 28th me and my sheepwash birding friend found a LITTLE EGRET at sheepwash urban park, which did cause much exitement among the scene but when you consider the location and that the bird was present 32+ days with constant disturbance from dog walkers, druggies and general chavs that you find in great bridge town centre :)

(Black Tailed Godwit + Curlew)

(Little Egret- Sheepwash UP)


One of the better month of the year. the continued presence of The LITTLE EGRET at Sheepwash on 4th was welcomed as was 2 LESSER WHITEHTROAT, upton had a COMMON GULL on the 15th but it was on in the latter stages of the month did it hot up, A Juv-1st winter MEDDITTERANEAN GULL showed superbly and i got some decent shots of the bird, a Juv GARGANEY was showing and a ROSS'S GOOSE was quite nice to see.

MARSH TIT was confirmed as breeding on the patch and a warbler day...

22nd saw us on Titterstone clee hill looking for a wryneck that a mate had seen but it was a no show, and only a juv WHEATEAR to show for it. on 23rd i picked up a new tripod and headed down to Grimley where a pair of Juv KNOT were feeding, showing distantly, also a flock of 4 LITTLE EGRET, 2 GREENSHANK AND A YELLOW WAGTAIL, 24th was again down the warren and i picked out a NEW Juv-1st win MEDDITTERANEAN GULL which also shown well,

27th was 'THE MOST PRODUCTIVE DAY OF THE YEAR' when we decided to jead down to slimbridge, a total of 81 species logged including 18 species of wader!!!!


A repeat visit to Titterstone on 29th for the wryneck again failed, while dipping a black redstart at the same location at the same time, however not all was bad and 2 WHINCHAT, 5 STONECHAT, 7 WHEATEAR were nice compensation for the double dip.

(Little Egret)

(Juv- 1st win MED GULL 21st)

(Searching the quarry at titterstone clee hill on the double dip day, it may be sunny but it was cold!!!!!!!)


4th had BITTERN, LITTLE EGRET, DUNLIN AND a Juv RUFF at the warren, but soon the supprises started coming with a GREY PHALAROPE on 1th and a Juv ARCTIC TERN at earlswood on the same day and the next week upton pulling my first yank wader when a PECTORAL SANPIPER dropped in for 3 weeks showing superbly on the 1st day but then staying only at the back of the flash for the remaining time, on the 1st day a juv YELLOW LEGGED GULL was picked out.


(Pectoral Sandpiper)


3 1st win MEDDITTERANEAN GULL at my school on the 5th made up mu total of 7 med gulls for the year, found while lining up for my pe lesson.

the contuinued presence of the PECTORAL SANDPIPER on the 2th and 9th were the last i saw, but there was also DUNLIN, COMMON GULL.

A day near bewdley produced 2 CROSSBILL, 2 BRAMBLING, and my 1st redwing and fieldfare of the autunm. Roost birding kicked off on 16th when 3000c gulls roosted at upton warren including 10+ YELLOW LEGGED GULLS, 40C COMMON GULL, 150c H gull, 1800c LBBG and 1000c BHG, this continued for a few weeks before trailing off, a jack snipe was seen and the final days birding of the month (25th) had 4 WHITE FRONTED GEESE at Upper Bittel, along with yet another YELLLOW LEGGED GULL, 58 GOLDEN PLOVER flew over upton warren at dusk and an adult YELLOW LEGGED GULL roosted.

(White Fronted Geese)


A total non birding month with the only birding being from the 26th where 3 COMMON GULL were on the ice at upton, a patch visit for the 1st time in months had 8 bullfinch and 2 snipe.


And again it livened up

on 10th a visit to trimpley res, had a couple of massive sized flocks, 192 MANDARIN!!!!!!! were on the river including a totally ALBINO bird, 108 GOOSANDER, 52 TUFTED DUCK, 3 WIGEON, 1 GADWALL, 2 CROSSBILL, 3 BRAMBLING, YELLOW LEGGED GULL all being logged in 1 1/2 hours. a return visit the bext day had 172 MANDARIN, 50C GOOSANDER, but other duck numbers had gone down, 16 tufties, 4 GCG, 3 marsh tit and the YELLOW LEGGED GULL was again down.

12th saw us at upton watching my favorite bird, the WAXWING, a flcok of 5 birds were watched at very close range, showing superbly,

at 12 noon on th 18th i found a WHOOPER SWAN on the river on the patch!!!!!!!, we watched it for 30 mins before it swam upriver and the snow became to bad to be out in.

26th was highlighted by the discovery of a few GOLDENEYE on the patch, so natraully we twitched them, saw them, but in the process found a bloody DRK 2nd win SMEW!!!!!, it was present for 2 days with 6 GOLDENEYE, numerous GOOSANDER, 14 TUFTED DUCK, 7 LITTLE GRERE, A COMMON GULL and a pair of DIPPER (all reports from either 26th or 27th). and that was my last birding of the year.





(Whooper Swan)


SO now reviewing the year link this it wasent as bad as it though will good birds in all but 1 of the months (november), and after 3 hours on this post over the last week ( including 1 1/2 tonight) selecting images, sightings etc i am glad to get it over with, i think it is more effective than last years but what do you think???

if it was a total waste of time please tell me, or otherwhys???

as usual i end with a thankyou, to everone who has given me bird news this year, everyone who has got me birding, people who have shipped me all over the place looking for birds, to thomas cook for the extra week in turkey :D

Good birding and a happy new year to all, hope it is a good year



Rob.S. said...

Hi MB , a very well writtern post , with great pics , you had a good year and your trip to Turkey was very successful i especially like the photo of the Ruppels warbler , a 3 hours well spent

Martyn Yapp said...

Thanks for the mention Craig, the bloggers type day was good fun and I really need no encouragement to see good birds wherever they are, although cherish your local patchwork, the advent of wheels brought my patchwork birding to an end, although with the price of petrol going through the roof, I will not be doing such stupid things, well not in 2011 anyway.

Jason K said...

An excellent review of your birding year Craig...I really should pull my finger out and do one for Shenstone!