26th of February 2012

Warwickshire & WWT - Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 66.

Weather conditions for February continue to be completely off the scale with the warm temperatures, 12 degrees instead of perhaps minus degrees, is not what you’d expect!

On route to Brandon Marsh, I drove along the back roads through Little Lawford, Kings Knewham and Wolston village noticing that many of the local farms now have an abundance of Lambs running around the pastures.

Birds seen in the fields and hedges were Skylark, Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Hedge Sparrow, Chaffinch, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Widgeon, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Willow Tit, Coal Tit, Jackdaw, Rook and Carrion Crow. Raptors seen were Peregrine, Buzzard and Kestrel.

My visit to Brandon Marsh was interesting in two ways, firstly the birds seen and secondly the couple that I’ve never seen in the reserve before who were first seen climbing the high ground in Horsetail Glade completely ignoring the photographer who suggested they stay on the paths! The same couple were later seen on the high bank between Wright and East Marsh Hides. The final sighting of these two irresponsible individuals was from Carlton hide as they made their way through Newlands. It was clear that the “No entry – conservation area” signs were totally ignored as both made their way all over the reed beds!

The notable birds seen were Oystercatcher, Kingfisher, Pintail, Goldeneye, Shelduck, Snipe, Pochard, Little Grebe and Widgeon.

The highlight was a good sighting of one of the Bittern, flying over the reeds which lasted at least 8 seconds.

Upon leaving at 5.45pm I looked in at East Marsh hide, all the Black Headed, Lesser Black Backed and Common Gulls had left to make their way to roost, presumably towards Draycote Water. Amongst the Lapwings was a solidarity Glaucous Gull, thanks to Google for Blackberry for helping with the identification.

22nd of February 2012

Draycote Water - Thurlaston - Rugby

Species seen 34.

Now that the mornings are getting lighter and indeed earlier each day, I can therefore look forward to longer walks before a day in my home office!  Arriving after 7.30am to be greeted by over twenty five Pied Wagtails hoping around the car park, was a good start.

My route produced the following notable sightings, Meadow Pipit, Possible Iceland Gull & Mediterranean Gull, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe & Little Grebe.
Raptors, Buzzard, Kestrel & Sparrowhawk.

One noticeable thing is the further reduced water level since my last visit. However, Severn Trent Water has started on a new £500,000 scheme to boost water levels at the reservoir.

Because of low rainfall over the winter period, the reservoir, which supplies thousands of homes in Rugby and Coventry, is only half full. As a result, a new pipeline is currently being built to fill it by pumping water from the River Leam, near Leamington Spa, which is nine miles away!

18th of February 2012

WWT – Brandon Marsh

Species seen 55.

With rain forecast, I went out well equipped for all weathers. My thermals and waterproofs were indeed needed, as five minutes in to my walk the heavens opened with torrential rain which lasted a good hour.

My first stop was Horsetail Glade which was rather noisy due to the Carrion Crows at the top of the canopy. Those and few Great Tits were all to be seen. Rather than carry on being drenched, I made my way to the Steetley hide where it was couples day, two Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall and Canada Geese. Hanging around for half an hour produced funnily enough, two Jays.

Taking in the other hides all the usual regular birds were seen, however East Marsh Pool had two Pintail, which are a first for me at Brandon.

Other notables, Shelduck, Goldeneye and twenty three Snipe.

At three o’clock the rain stopped and within ten minutes the reserve was bright and sunny, this lasted for the rest of the afternoon. It also brought out the raptors, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard all seen. One Buzzard landed in a tree overlooking Teal Pool, spreading its wings like a Cormorant to dry out, it was immediately set about by two Carrion Crows which chased it off, and the same luckless bird was seen over East Marsh Pool being chased again.

When I arrived at the Carlton hide I came across the first people I’d seen all day, chatting to one of the photographers he’d seen a Bittern half an hour earlier, just my luck as I’ve not seen one since the 17th of December 2011. Then, right on cue a Bittern flew in from East Marsh and dropped in to the reeds directly opposite the hide, then up again briefly and down for a second time. It appears there were two Bittern and thankfully I got to see at least one.

12th of February 2012

WWT – Brandon Marsh
Species seen 31.

A short visit and a completely different day from yesterday with rain, drizzle and mist. The agenda was to look for woodland birds in the hope of seeing the UK’s three Woodpeckers.

With this in mind my plan was to tour the woodland areas of the reserve. To begin with I took in the copse next to the old tip, then on to old hare covert and then through Horsetail Glade.

Birds of note, Blackcap, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Song Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Buzzard, Kestrel, Wren, Robin, Tree Sparrow, Tree creeper,  plus 100's of Wood Pigeon, all seen within the wooded areas.

For the third UK Woodpecker I will have to wait for another day?

11th of February 2012

WWT – Brandon Marsh

Species seen 57.

The weather was fabulous for the time of year, clear blue skies all afternoon. Upon arrival the car park area threw up the usual common birds, Dunnock, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a not so common sighting these days , Tree Sparrows. Above the sound of a Buzzard was heard which then flew from beyond the elms to make an appearance.

My route around the reserve began with a slow walk through Horsetail Glade while trying to keep noise down, I found it almost impossible, due to the snow and ice.  A drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard high in the trees along with a Green Woodpecker letting the whole glade know it was leaving. Many of trees are showing evidence of woodpeckers tapping, with bark missing and peck marks etc.  Also seen were Goldcrest, Tree creeper, Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren and Robin.

Moving on to the pools, each one being frozen with the exception of a small area of East Marsh pool which was packed with the usual wildfowl and geese, I finally ended up in the Carlton hide. Two Water Rail produced high entertainment with them trying to walk briskly across the ice, every now and then they would slip and once restarted on their trek, and then they would slip again. Extremely amusing in a childish way!

Raptors seen over Newlands reed beds were 3 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk.

4th of February 2012

In search of Waxwings!

Last Sunday I got a tip off from fellow birder & blogger Kevin Groocock that Waxwings were seen in Cubbington, when we arrived they had flown. However, Kevin did manage some record shots before they left and they’ve been seen again since.

Today we set off in hopeful search of Waxwings, taking a leisurely drive through the Warwickshire countryside taking in many of the small villages, Cubbington, Weston, Wappenbury, Eathorpe, Hunningham, Marton, Princethorpe, Stretton  and yes, Birdingbury! There were quite a few reminders on route of the governments’ ridiculous High Speed Train plan, which will run right through our county!

Sadly no waxwings, however species seen included over 1000 Woodpigeon as a great many flocks were above and the trees.

Others seen in fields, trees and bushes throughout our mini tour were, Fieldfare, Redwing, Robin, Buzzard, Kestrel, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Wren, Song Thrush, Pheasant, Cormorant, Dunnock, Tree Sparrow, Mute Swan, Lapwing, Black Head Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Black Backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Starling, Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Ostrich, in one of the small farms.

With the weather reports of snow and the ever diminishing light, my decision not to take in Avon Dassett Hills was made and I returned with no sightings of Waxwings! However it was an enjoyable relaxed drive through part of the County.