Wednesday, 26 September 2012


With little birdwise reported within the county, we decided to head to the location just down the road, tempory home to a big white bird, which was still hanging around.
Upon parking at the north end, i crossed the road, and it only took a couple of seconds to locate a white Egret. However, this wasnt the Great, this was a LITTLE EGRET, and it didnt take long at all to pick up a 2nd bird. 2 Little Egret! And, also showing in the flooded middle section was the GREAT EGRET!
The bird was flushed by a pair of birders walking along the western path, and the bird gave superb flight views, at times with Great, Little Egret and Grey Heron all in the same bin views at once.
The bird flew towards us, and began to drop down on the pool just below the raised viewpoint and i tried some 'in flight' photos of the Great Egret.

The bird briefly touched down before being flushed by a dog walker, and the bird then flew off in a north ish direction. At about the same time, a stunning juvenile PEREGRINE flew in, and hunted low over the water for a good 15 minuites, perching in a tree adjoining the road for some time.
The Dog walker also flushed a BLACK-TAILED GODWIT for the flooded middle section, which quickly flew off north, over our heads and into the distance.

The PEREGRINE gave awsome views as it tried to attack BHG, and in its attempts to hunt them, it flushed another BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, whcih it then proceeded to chase, getting incredibly close on its tail, almost catching it. But the Godwit kept climbing higher, and out-climbed the Peregrine, and then followed the other Godwit off into the distance to the north.

With most of the birds having being flushed by now, we decided to walk along the western track, and it didnt take long to pick up the Peregrine again, and it circled up higher and flew off to the west. And it was while watching the 'Peg' that i spotted a smaller falcon and it briefly 'flycatched' (or should that be dragoncatched) from a perch before alighting back in the same place. At this time, i was able to get the scope onto it, and i was able to see the brown tinged wing coverts and tail feathers, ageing the bird as a 1st summer HOBBY.


The bird perched for a long time, giving me great views of a perched Hobby, something i cant claim to have seen many times!

Another Little Egret (Total 3) was showing on a flood across the path, but we inadvertantly flushed it as we came around the crops. Luckilly however, it only flew to the other side of the pool, and pitched down.

We then decided to head to the Waggon wheel pits, which were 'dead' apart form a few BHG, so we moved down to the river, via Waggon Wheel lane. About halfway down the lane i picked up the Great Egret again, as it flew back from the river back to Camp lane pits. This was the 2nd rare heron ive seen from this particular path, as it was where i caught up with the Glossy Ibis a few years back.
We had a short walk south along the river, passing the marshy pool which had 3 Gadwall, and looked amazing for a Crake!
A short walk further revealed a Green Sandpiper on the sandbank. With heavy clouds aproching, we decided to head back to the car.
From here, we had a very quick drop into Camp Pits again, and i saw the Great Egret on the flooded middle section, showing in the same scope view as all 3 LITTLE EGRET, and 3 Grey Heron. Heron Heaven!


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Slimbridge- American Wader, Ducks and Harrier.

Our annual late August visit to Slimbridge was held today, and it combined with the presence of a decent rarity. I had been keeping a fairly close eye on the bird reports from the @Slimbridge_Wild Twitter page and the WWT website, and i was quite dissapoined that the Wader flocks that usually build up at this time of year on the estury had not really materialised, combined to that the fact that high tide was just as the centre closes, i knew that esturine wader's might not be noted.

And i wasnt wrong!

Just starting on the way down i was checking twitter when a new tweet popped up, Spotted Crake and Long-Billed Dowitcher showing from South lake hide. Awsome, be there in 40 minuites!

We arrived to a rather full south lake hide, and i was informed that the Crake hadent shown, and the Dowitcher was hidden amongst the sleeping Godwits, of which there was a 200 strong flock of!
We stayed in the hide for about 1 1/2 hours hoping the Crake would show or the Dowitcher would emerge. Eventually, the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER did  wake up, and walk from behind a Godwit, showing itself briefly before heading back to sleep.
On this, we decided to wander.
Wood Sandpiper has been abit of a bogey this year, and i havent caught  up with one. However, one had been showing from the Robbie Garnett hide for a few days now, an easy tick and run, surely?

Combined with the Crake, these two birds were the most stuborn birds of the whole day, and we spent hours looking for both!
We walked up via the Rushy, where i quickly spotted a female GARGANEY dabbling with the Teal. Briefly, it swam into the close bay in front of the hide, and i was treated to great views of this migrant duck as it swam around briefly, before swimming back with the rest of the Teal.

From here though, it briefly went downhill. We stopped off at the Robbie Garnett hide, and spend a good hour looking for the Wood sand, apparently it was frequenting a small 30ft stretch of the shore that was hidden by reeds from the hide!! Ahhhhhh.
We then moved into the Holden Tower, were a brief, distant flypast of 30 Dunlin was the only esturine wader activity of the day!
We dropped into both the Robbie Garnett (Still no Wood sand) and the Rushy (Garganey now at the back), where 2 PINTAIL were showing right at the back of the pool.
While walking through the 'Birds of a suspect origin' sections of the centre it became obvious that most of the birds from the Zeiss hide had been flushed while we were just heading over there!
We scanned the Lapwing flocks, and picked out a few RUFF and a GREENSHANK, most of which then landed on the South lake. Anyway, we continued our journey to the Zeiss, were i had my dinner that i had prepared, a nice Cheese and Ham Bagguette, lovely.
As expected there wasnt much birdlife here as much of it had been flushed, however, initially, 3 RUFF were grounded among the Lapwings.

But, just about when i was finishing my Bagguette, a further 4 RUFF flew in, giving us a total of 7 birds infront of us. A single GREENSHANK was also here. Scanning through the flocks of Duck was quite uneventful, no Wigeon, no Pintail.

Thinking i might try my luck at the Crake again, and to now be able to get some photos of the Dowitcher as the sun had moved slightly away so hopefully the birds wouldnt be silouetted.

Well i'll just say what happened, another hour, another no sign of the Crake, and my worst nightmare was unfolding, the Godwit flock was still sillouetted! But i though i cant leave without at least a record of the Dowicther, which wasnt showing particularly well.

A very nice number of Waders were on the South lake, and it was great to be sifting through the large numbers of Lapwing and Black-Tailed Godwit's, picking up RUFF'S, GREENSHANKS 80c Redshanks and Green Sandpipers. and of cause, the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, which was now feeding.

As i said, most of the wader flock (Including the area with the Dowitcher) were in strong sunlight which was bouncing off the water, and i could only get backlit shots of the birds.

Hoping the light would be better later in the day we left so that we could walk to Middle point, stopping at each hide on the way up. The Garganey had now dissapeared, and a longish stint in the Robbie Garnett one again revealed no Wood sand.
However, this Hawker sp Dragonfly was showing on reeds infront of the hide, another 'Odonta' (I believe thats how you spell it to add to the digi-scoped list!
 We walked down the Holden Walkway to the Middle point, stopping halfway to view from a gap in the hedge where you could see some of the 'invisible shoreline' where the Wood Sand was. And amazingly, we could see the WOOD SANDPIPER! However distant, but still, i finally got it, about 4 hours after first trying to see it!
 It was obvious there wasnt going to be any waders other than a few distant Curlew on the estury, however, i find that the Middle point 'hide' is a nice place to have a sit down, you really do think your miles away from civilisation, and , with it being a 'wall to wall' blue sky day, it was a nice place to just have a  nice stop and wait.
We noticed abit of commotion over the dumbles as the Curlews and the Gulls 'got up', and i quickly scanned over there and saw a 'Buzzard' circling quite high up. After abit, i looked again, as i wasnt particularly certain over its ID. And by now, it had came closer and it wasnt just a Buzzard like shape now. I quickly noticed its tail looked strangely long, and its wings sightly odd, but i couldnt tell why. But the bird was still sillouetted.
I thought that the bird looked 'odd', so decided to call to 'get onto this Raptor'. By now though i had glimpsed a pale head, and called out MARSH HARRIER!. The bird then proceeded to circle above our heads, by which time i'd got the bird in my scope, and i enjoyed great views of a new species for me! Tick 1 off the 'Bogey List'
The bird, then slowly dropped lower as it flew past us, over towards the 100 acre, dropping down behind the tree line.
A very large Gull flock was developing on the mudflats to the north, however way to far away to ID, and 2 LITTLE EGRET's were also showing far to the north. However, we got lucky as another LITTLE EGRET had chosen to hunt the small pool just infront of the viewpoint.

2 PEREGRINE were flying, and perching around on the mudflats.
Moving up to the slightly higher viewpoint behind us on the Seawall, we scanned the fence lines, and i picked up 3 WHEATEAR, which is always a nice addition to the day list. I again looked to the north, and i picked up the MARSH HARRIER hunting low over the reeds at the 100 acre area that you can see. A few more views were had as it moved back and forth over the reeds.

I wanted to have one last look for the Crake on the south lake, and to cut a long story short, the bird didnt show again untill after closing time, by which time we had arrived back home. The LONG BILLED DOWITCHER was still showing and feeding, but slowly became less active.


The wader flock had grown further since we were last here, and the 230 Black-Tailed Godwits were joined by, 3 Greenshank, 80c Redshank, 3 Ruff, which was a nice little list. 
Highlights for the day were:
Wood Sandpiper
2 Pintail
3 Little Egret
9 Green Sandpiper
1 Common Sandpiper
c80 Redshank
4 Greenshank
7+ Ruff
3 Wheatear

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Shenstone- Migrant Passerines

Mark P (Doorstep Birding) had told me of some Spotted Flycather's he had found earlier in the day, and as (Unbelievably!) i havent seen one this year i was hoping for a 'get back' rush to see them, however, it was now nearly two hours after he'd seen them.
However, we still headed out, and, an arriving on site, saw nothing!
But hey, i was scouting a new area, so it wasnt all doom and gloom, Soon after, we spotted Jason K (The Shenstone Natrualist) trundling down the road in his car, looking for the same birds as us. After a good chat and a wait around the area where the Spot flys were, Jase mentioned that 2 Juvenile Whinchats were still at Shenstone, and Redstarts had been seen. So we planned to call in on the way back.

We dropped in at the Paddock Jase told us the Whinchats were in, parking at the gate, and it only took a single scan to locate both juvenile WHINCHATS sitting on thistle heads in the centre of the paddock. Sadly however, the birds wouldnt approach any closer, although giving great scope views, not very good for photos.
Both birds were in. fairly good looking freshly plumages

And it was sheer luck that i manadged to get a flight shot as one of the Whinchats moved from perch to perch.

It was while watching the Whinchats that we watched a PEREGRINE flew over fairly low, but obviously there was a thermal close by, and the bird rapidly circled higher and higher, at one point being in the air with 5 Buzzards! before flying off south.

We then drove down the road slightly to the hedge that runs through the paddocks, and had a scan from the car window in the hope a Redstart may be in there. And out luck was in, and soon after, i picked up a female type REDSTART as it flitted low down amongst the hawthorn and grass.

Out came the scope, and i was taking my first decent images of a Redstart soon after, Awsome!

In contrast to the Whinchats, these birds were very obliging and odly, the bird often perched out in the open for a fair bit of time!
I'd started taking photos of Redstart 1 when i saw a bird drop down from the hedge to my left, and i glimpsed a red tail as it flew back. It was another Redstart! Soon after, this 'new' bird flew over to the hedgeline with the other Redstart, both calling incessantly, and both giving great views!

I moved position slightly, and i was treated to superb views of one of the Redstarts as it just sat on the edge of a hawthorn in the sun. And i was able to better my attempts from a few minuites previously!


The above video in particular im happy with as it is moderatly sharp, you can hear the bird calling, and you can see its glowing red tail shivering, exactly as a Redstart should be doing!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


Yes, that statement is true, although with some overlap surely, i have seen 17 Med Gulls ( In numbers of 1 ,9, 5, and lastly 2, which i will talk about now) this year alone at Upton Warren. WHAT A RUN!

Shannon,  'The Girlfriend' and her little sister, Lauren, accompanyed me to the reserve today to see what was about, so that i could teach them the 'ropes' of birding, to digiscope, and just generally a nice time out in the sun! (And proberbly a little bit of trying to keep me happy by going out birding)
Well, the sun was number 1 ticked off almost immidiatly, as it was bright and warm, a nice way to spend a chilled few hours down by the lake.

We had a hour and a bit, so i thought that the flashes would be the better choice, being more 'bird rich' at the moment and should be more productive.
Immidatly upon reaching the hide, i spotted the 2 BLACK-TAILED GODWIT's feeding at the back of the flashes. These birds showed that at least there was abit of wader passage going on, despite the passage verging on dire this year.
It was nice to get back to basics while out with the two girls, as i took time looking for species that i usually wouldnt, and spend time pointing them out, showing them through the scope, and describing why they were what they were.
Time was also spent learning Lauren to Digi-scope, which i must say, she picked up very quickly, and she got some very good shots of both the Curlew and the Lapwing's. Actually, really good for a first attempt. So, if you ever read this Lauren, Well done. It took me a hell of a long time to actually learn to Digi-scope, so to pick it up that quickly was an achievement!
I was also suprised by how good both of them were at picked out birds aswell, and, i must say, i was quite proud when Shan was correctly identifying Green and Common Sandpipers, and picking up the Godwits in flight, being chased by a LBBG!
Lucky for us. This ment that the Godwit's then landed quite close to the hide, and we were treated to some amazing views. The juvenile bird was stunning, in it's very fresh, bright orange plumage, so therefore presumably a bird of the 'islandica' race.

(Please click on the photo's for better viewing.)
As can be seen, the adult, in complete contrast, was a very scruffy looking bird, as you would expect. However, the bird was obviously moulting into winter plumage, as can be seen by the extensive grey hue's coming through.


For me though, the highlight was when i picked up a juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL flying in with a small party of BHG, the bird then proceeded to land at the back of the flashes with the flock, and i was able to show my favorite gull to them. Black tailed Godwit and Med Gull is a good couple fo have on a first birding trip!

After a few minuites however, i was suprised when i saw another MEDITERRANEAN GULL fly in with the BHG. I knew two had been seen together earlier, so i shouldnt have been too suprised, but a great sight, of what is still, not a common bird around here.
Here you can see both birds, both 1 in from each side, and both juveniles. One of the birds was wearing a red leg ring which read 'H5FO', which was found out to be a bird originating from Hungary! This bird had flew 1,100 miles east in just over 2 months since being ringed to be in front of us here at Upton, simply mindblowing if you ask me, 1000 miles at 2 months old!!
Lucky for us aswell, the unringed Med gull decided to move closer, and i was able to take some better pics.

Ive wanted to see a fresh juv for ages, and this is about as close as i will get without visiting a nesting site, as the bird had only just started moulting its scapulars.
Also of note was 10 Green Sandpipers, 3 Common Sandpipers, 20c Curlew and a brief Kingfisher that flew past on the way back to the carpark!
A nice visit, shared with my lovely obliging girlfriend and her sister :)

Monday, 10 September 2012

'small' Twitching

A Black Tern had been around at Upper Bittel res. for a few days now, and as i missed a couple of previous birds this year, it was one i decided to claw back, as Bittel is only just off our usual route back from the Gardening job.
It didnt take long to walk to the causeway from the parking spot, walking past the small fishing pools and the 'Goose Field', which contained a few Greylag amongst the Canada's.
Getting onto the Causeway, it didnt take long to locate the juvenile BLACK TERN as it hawked low over the water. Taking occasional breaks on a boyd.
Unfortunatly though, it had decided to perch on the most distant boyd at the back of the reservior, shunning the small boat quite close in where the rest of the Terns had gathered.

The bird also had company with 10 Common Tern.
4 Grey Wagtails (a family party) was a very nice addition, showing quite well in the 'sailing compound'

Upton Warren- Roost Birding, Again

Altogether, again, a quite quiet roost, although numbers of Greeb Sandpiper were high, 17, which is a highly impressive count due to the lack of any serious wader passage this autumn.
However, i must say, it was waders that were the highlight of the night, 8 species of wader were on the flashes, including 8 Avocet, 4 LRP (Juv's), Lapwing (c50), 1 Dunlin, 17 Green Sandm 2 Common Sand, 23 Curlew, and this stunning SNIPE. The first one to have returned to Upton this year, and as usual with the migrant Snipe, it was very showy!

Common Snipe, are awsome birds!

It was nice to see LRP had fledged young from somewhere, as none of the 4 juvs were raised at Upton, after the dire breeding season many birds have had!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Grimley is one of those locations that i dont usually go to. I cant explain why, i just always seem to choose somewhere else. However, recent landscaping work in the area has resulted in some great birds! The last time i had visited here was when the Grey Plover and Red Crested Pochards were here, and i was left suitably impressed by the work undertaken!

Grimley now, seemingly, has became one of the 'big boy' sites in worcestershire, and is seriously contending with other 'up there' locations.

And it pulled yet another great bird out of the bag when a birder located a stunning GREAT-WHITE EGRET at the Camp lane pits. Unfortunatly, i was unable to go straight over, as i was staying at my girlfriends at the time, but, luckily, the bird remained in the area, and on 4th, i was able to go there after the gardening job to visit this awsome looking habitat.
We parked at the north end, and i hadent even crossed the road when i saw our target, as a huge, 'Big white bird' was standing sentinal over a small area of shore at the north end.
Over the next hour, we were treated to absolutly stunning views of this county rarity as it hunted small fish in the shallow water. Poor light and drizzle didnt help when trying to get photos and videos, but anyway: You know me, i tried!

My only previous bird was a extremly distant bird on an estury in Pembrokeshire, which, after calculating the distance on maps, was shown to be a mile away! So it was great to be able to see one of these birds up close was a great treat. However, for a bird as distinctive in every way as a Great Egret, it didnt help any ID lessons, however, it was great to watch this bird up close.

Eventually however, the GREAT EGRET was flushed by a Mallard (Of all things!!) and flew to the infamous 'Flooded middle section' which has help so many of Grimleys recent rarities, and i manadged to get some pics in flight, and distant 'with habitat' pics.

Something gives me the idea, that Grimley could be visited alot more regularly in the future. And a message to all readers, watch the news for this site, because this place is going to strike BIG!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Upton Warren- Waders

Upton Warren usually has some good birds about, not nessesarilly rare birds, but decent migrant birds, and that is exactly how this evening turned out, and we manadged to squeeze in a few hours to check on the 'new in' waders.

The Green Sandpiper's had now returned in decent numbers, with 8 counted dotted around the flashes. One of which was showing very well in the channel closest the hide, giving great views, as Green Sand's usualy do at this site!

With the very calm water, i decided to try some reflection shots on the Sandpipers.
And i took a little footage.

A single Common Sandpiper was also showing quite well, but as always with this species, was often very mobile around the flashes, so you had to be quick to anticipate where it would go. This species is less 'numerous' at Upton than Green Sand, and you dont usually get more than a few at once, which is a shame, because i love watching their 'bobbing' behaviour as they scuttle along the waters edge.
Unusually though, i was suprised when i heard the high pitched call of a Kingfisher, as i sped low over the water and landed on a perch below us! So unusual is this at Upton that it is the first i have ever seen actually on the flashes in about 4 years of visitng the place! Im guessing that the salinity of the pools are a cause for this absense, despite them being a regular sighting at the Moors Pool, the Sailing Pool, and along the Brook's and River. However, i took advantage of these amazing views:
Although being a fairly common bird at my 'local patches', Kingfisher is always a 'highlight species' when seen. You just have to look at it to see why. A stunning bird!
People are often suprised when i show them a Kingfisher as it sits in a riverside bush about how dull it looks in the shade, however, this one was in full sunlight! Check out those colours on this gorgeous male bird!
The Avocets were lingering around, and 6 birds were seen, again, dotted at various points in the flashes. A Little Ringed Plover was nice to see, after fleeing the site completly after the recent floods. A flock of 19 Curlew were showi
ng on the peninsular in front of the hide.
A pair of Little Owls were perched up on their usual farnhouse chimney.
A nice evening, one without rarities, but a nice selection of migrants, which if you ask me, are just as exiting!