Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Thrashing Warwickshire- Hume's Warbler, Waterbirds and a Sparrow

With the sun shining, and spring truly been in the air i was getting a little worried. All of our wintering birds would soon be getting an urge to head back north to their breeding grounds, and time was fast running out to find them!
With that in mind, the decision to head to one of the bigger of the regions reservoirs was taken!

It has been such a long time since i had visited Draycote Water, it has been rather 'quiet' for a very long period but this winter it really has pulled in a few goodies!

Heading along the M42 it would have been rude to have not dropped into Hopwood on the way over, and the GREAT GREY SHRIKE was soon located feeding in its usual spot near the fenceline, distant as ever.

Not too much longer after, we were pulling into the car park atop the hill overlooking the huge expanse of open water that is Draycote. Actually it was almost the exact spot that we parked on my very first visit! Much to my approval however, the weather was far nicer, and not freezing cold as you expect with this place, and soon i was walking around to Rainbow corner in bright sunshine!

It was while scanning a large flock of Tufted Duck and Goldeneye from on of the fishermans car parks i picked up a small, pale duck at the back of the flock. A few seconds after and it was in my scope, and i was able to confirm that i was watching the rather pretty 1st winter male LONG-TAILED DUCK in the distance.

Moving a little further around, we were treated to great views of a few of the large numbers of Goldeneye, many of which were displaying and calling loudly from very close in to the shore, regardless of the huge numbers of walkers and screaming children! What stunning ducks!

Walking even further around, we were soon adjacent to the LONG-TAILED DUCK, and we were treated to absolutely stunning views of this seaduck as it happily swam about with the Tufted Ducks and Coots! Surreal!

As regular readers will know, my previous experience of 'LTD' as they are affectionately initialised to, was of a female bird which was so far away it was nothing more than a dot in the scope, so to have one this close was amazing, and i truly savoured every second!

Walking a little bit further a single bird sitting atop the hedgeline proved to be a TREE SPARROW! A bird that is now sadly very rare within my home county of Worcester, and therefore it was great to catch up with one of these stunning red-heads! It sat up on the hedge for a minute or so before it flew off into the adjacent fields! It really is hard to imagine that i used to get this species in my urban garden just outside Dudley! How long ago that seems now, as now i perhaps only see a couple of these birds a year!

With this corner of the reservoir being very productive, i was reluctant to leave, but soon we headed off around onto Farbourgh bank, and about half way along a small flock of Goldeneye appeared, and while scanning them as they flew in a 'white' duck was tagging along with them. I was shouting out SMEW as a stunning looking adult drake flew in, which was greeted by some odd looks from some walkers by, but luckily the bird then went onto drop onto the water just in front of us!

A little bit of swimming.

Followed by a little bit of a stretch

And then one of the motorboats from the sailing club approached, and soon after sent the bird flying a long distant to the north shore of Toft bay!

For the sake of complete-ness, we continued up the bank until the point where we could scan into Toft bay distantly, the Smew was located with the same flock of Goldeneye, and further scanning revealed the last 'target' of the day when the GREAT-NORTHERN DIVER swam across, preened and flapped on the far side of the bay. Having had decent views of many 'Great- Northerns' this year, i chose to turn back to the car.

With a fair bit of daylight still left, we chose to drive over to Coleshill to get some views of the HUME'S WARBLER, which was showing well upon arrival, meaning i could properly study its plumage. I later moved up to the road bridge where i was treated to amazing views of this stunning Leaf Warbler as it fed in tree's down to about 15ft in front of me, where i tried to get some digi-binned pictures before it dropped into denser vegetation! 

While standing here, the similarly long staying Siberian Chiffchaff was calling, and also showing briefly in tree's on the opposite side of the road, further adding to the warbler interest of the site! And even more than that, as i was trying to relocate either of the warblers a small flock of 9 Redpoll flew in and landed upon a silver birch in the centre of the clearing, and when i got on them, was struck by 4 very bright, icy couloured Mealy Redpolls! A little further scrutiny revealed each of those 'pale' 4 also had nice white wing bars. One in particular was particularly pale, and really was a looker! We stuck around until the light started to fade, but both warblers refused to show, but the Redpoll's stayed on view, but somewhat more distantly.

What a day in the midlands! As i have said before, i can't remember many winters where birding has been this good around the midlands, with decent birds present all over the place! Lets hope it continues into the spring, summer and autumn!

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