Wednesday 27 October 2021

RSPB Blacktoft Sands

 Just before I set off for Shetland, my mate John Hague asked if I fancied a look at the White-tailed Plover that was residing at the RSPB Blacktoft Sands reserve and had been there for quite some time; It's always nice to go and see a British rarity. On arriving, we were directed to First Hide where the bird was being seen, sure enough  it was there - but tucked up in some reeds, asleep. It remained there for an hour or so apart from a little walk, but decided to go back to sleep again. I managed a couple of distant images but nothing brilliant.A few Ruff were seen from this hide, along with Little Egret and a Male Marsh Harrier. We walked down to Singleton Hide where there were lots of Duck including Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard and Gadwall. Waders including  Greenshank, Snipe, Lapwing, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit.

                                                             White-tailed Plover

White-tailed Plover

Ruff just taking off

We had a look from Marshland Hide and Xerox Hide where Green Sandpiper, Redshank and more Duck were seen, and a  large flock of Pink-footed Geese went over. We watched a Grey Heron which John and I thought was having a vole for lunch, but another birder who was videoing it informed us the Heron's lunch was in fact a Tree Sparrow! how bizzare!!

Grey Heron lunching on a Tree Sparrow

Male Marsh Harrier


Tree Sparrow

It's a great reserve, and we really enjoyed our 3 or 4 hours mooching around it, and on the way back to 
the car park it was nice to watch the Tree Sparrows at the feeding station.
Like I said, the following week I was off to the Shetland Isles, so once I've sorted through my images I'll hopefully have some to put on the blog. 

As always thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday 8 September 2021

Local Rarity

 I ventured to Groby Pool on Monday the 6th of September in search of a county rarity, a Wryneck which local birder Andy Forryan had found the previous Saturday feeding along a footpath just north of the Pool. Only 1 or 2 of these are found in Leicestershire each year if we are lucky! It's only a 10 minute drive for me, and as I arrived mid morning, Alan Pocock was just leaving; Alan has birded Groby Pool for longer than he wants to remember.  He told the handful of birders/photographers that were gathered that if they were patient, the bird would eventually show well. He wasn't wrong, and after a few glimpses of the bird in some bushes, it finally settled down and came down to feed on some ant hills and also on the footpath. I've been lucky,  this was my 3rd sighting of this species in Leicestershire. I've got to say, whilst I was there everyone behaved and kept their distance, but I heard on the birding grapevine that people were not so good on Tuesday! I did have a word with one photographer who was getting a bit over zealous and was getting closer and closer to he bird, so I  politely asked him to come back to where everyone was standing, which he did. I do think that the majority of birders/ photographers are well behaved and show some excellent field craft, it's the odd bad apple I'm afraid that gives them a bad name, and so they all get tarred with same brush, which is not always the case. I know some excellent birders/photographers and they know their field craft. We all know or should know that the bird's welfare comes first, these birds have got to feed more or less constantly, as they have a long trek in front of them.  Just enjoy the birds from a sensible distance (rant over) Below are few images of the Groby Pool Wryneck. 

I'm off to Shetland in a few weeks so hopefully post some thing about that adventure on my return. As always thanks for stopping by



Thursday 12 August 2021

Just a catch up

 Well it's been a while since I last posted anything - but that doesn't mean I've not been out and about - although probably not as much as i would have liked!...... 

Going back to when lockdown ended on March 29th 2021, John Hague, Dave Gray and I decided to go down to Exmouth in Devon to have a look at the Northern Mockingbird which had been frequenting people's gardens for quite some time. As soon as we got there, other birders directed us to where the bird was perched in what was apparently it's favourite tree, so it was quite an easy twitch to start us off!


Northern Mockingbird images

After we had had our fill of the Mockingbird, we continued on to Dawlish Countryside Park, as we'd been told Cirl Bunting was quite easy to see - and the information was correct! We had really great views of a handful of the birds

Cirl Bunting

We continued on again - this time to Aylesbeare Common RSPB Reserve, which is good for Dartford Warbler; after an hour or so, we found our quarry - but sadly, no images.

9th April was my next bird of note, when an adult Kittiwake was found at Groby Pool - about 3 miles from where I live.  It wasn't hard to find, as it was the only gull on the pool! - but a really good find, and nice bird to see.

Kittiwake Images

Still in April, (20th) and once again Dave, John and I decided to do another outing - but this time for a mammal in the shape of an Arctic Walrus, which, after visiting Ireland, had taken up residence on the slipway of the RNLI Lifeboat Station at Tenby in Wales. All I can say is what a magnificent animal! Since we've seen it, it has ventured as far south as France and Spain, but, as I write this blog, it has travelled back north again via the Scilly Isles, and is currently back in Ireland. Hopefully, the walrus - which has been nicknamed 'Wally'  - is heading in the right direction and will soon be back in the Arctic where he belongs.   Good luck, Wally!!!

Images of 'Wally' the Walrus

It was good to also see Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone on the slipway with 'Wally'; we also noted five Whimbrel flying over, a few Manx Shearwater and three Sandwich Tern along with one or two Guillemot and a couple of Rock Pipits.

We finished our day out at Seven Sister Falls for Dipper (again, no images)

Rock Pipit images

June was a fantastic month for me as I managed to get three new British ticks!

It all started on 6th June, when John Waters and I travelled to Ham Wall RSPB Reserve where a long-staying River Warbler had taken up residence. Once again, we had superb views of this bird - which never stopped singing - but sadly,  all of my images of it are on my phone -  and since I'm something of a technophobe, I haven't got a clue how to get them onto my laptop!!

The following afternoon, again, with John Waters and also Chris Hubbard, we travelled north to Blyth for a Red-necked Stint; it was distant, as it was feeding on the other side of the estuary - but we were advised by a local birder to bide our time, as it would fly to our side of the estuary as the tide came in. Thank goodness for local knowledge, as eventually, we had brilliant views but once again, the images are on my phone.......

My third tick on 30th June came in the shape of a Black-browed Albatross which was visiting the Gannet colony at Bempton Cliffs RSPB Reserve. 
I left in the morning at 'stupid o'clock', arriving at an almost-full car park around 4.30ish, after a 2.5 hour drive. I bumped into my mate Chris Hubbard at the viewing area, and together we waited for a couple of hours, before someone shouted those immortal words....'there it is!!!'  We had decent views, but it was always a long way off, and my images certainly don't do it justice. Some observers have been lucky to see the bird at a really close range..... Although  I've been lucky enough to see hundreds of these birds in and around The Beagle Channel, off the coast of Argentina,  it's still a thrill to see one flying around our coastline here in Britain.

Not very good images of Black-browed Albatross (but I hope you get the gist...)

Gannet image (especially for my wife, as it's one of her favourites)

And so to July.....  My good mate John Hague had yet to see Elegant Tern, as he missed the Pagham Harbour bird which I got to see, so 11th July I accompanied him to Cemlyn Bay, on the north-west coast of Anglesey, where one of these birds had taken up residence in amongst some Sandwich Terns.
It was probably a good hour before we finally had sight of the Elegant Tern, but there were so many other birds to enjoy that the time soon passed.  In the bay we saw a handful of Black Guillemot, Arctic, Common and Sandwich Tern going back and forth to the colony as they brought in food for their young; we also had a Peregrine disrupt the Tern colony and it had a go at two of the birds -  but left empty-taloned.  All in all, a great day out!

Elegant Tern

Elegant Tern

Arctic Tern feeding juvenile

Common Tern

Roseate Tern

Arctic Tern

Hopefully we can all still continue to enjoy the outdoors whilst staying safe as we move forward into this new 'normal' 

Stay safe please everyone, and as always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the post

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Lockdown local Birding

Lockdown has been a pain to say the least!  January 2nd was the last time I went birding on my patch at Brascote GP,  so it's been birding in the garden and around the village - the latter not being very productive. January 15th ,a female Blackcap turned up - which for our small garden is a really good bird; the last time we saw her was on the 3rd of March but she had been in and out of the garden for 47 days altogether.
Also regular in the garden is Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Robin; the local blackbirds and Dunnocks are always squabbling, and the Wood Pigeons never seem to stop feeding!

Blue Tit in the snow

We also get regular visits from Great Tit, Blue Tit and Coal Tit - with the occasional visit from Long-tailed Tits.
In early February, we had two or three inches of snow here which highlighted a few of our garden birds nicely.

Coal Tit 



Wood Pigeon

It's now mid-March, and the Blue Tits and Great Tits have been prospecting the nesting boxes, so hopefully, they will breed - and it's also nice to see all of the garden birds in their breeding plumage!

Female Blackcap

Cole Tit

The above image of a Redwing was a first for our garden, although I have seen plenty flying through


Our weekly grocery shop puts us in very close proximity to Leicester's 'Abbey Park' - a place I hadn't visited since I was a teenager, so, a few months ago, we decided to go to the park early doors for our daily exercise before doing our shop. The park has lots of Canada Geese and hybrid geese, along with lots of Mallard, as the public 'feed the ducks' with their children - but occasional other duck species do turn up as well - so the last few months, we've enjoyed our weekly walk around the park whilst seeing the bird life.

The images below are from Abbey Park 



Female Red-crested Pochard

Drake Red-crested Pochard

Drake Shoveler

This is just a snapshot of some of my images over the last few months. Hopefully, in the next few weeks we will all be able to get out and about a bit more! In the meantime, stay safe, and thanks for visiting........

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Something Local

 Going back to last year in early October, I was out on my local patch at Brascote where I picked up a small wader in my binoculars; I set up my scope and there was a first for the patch in the shape of a Knot. When Carl Baggot and Adey Baker turned up to view the Knot, Carl also found a patch tick - a female Red-breasted Merganser but sadly, no images as the bird was no sooner there than it was gone again!


Later on in October, another patch tick was found by Carl - a Yellow-browed warbler, but again, sadly no images. It was found again a week or so later by Nick Sharpe; whether it was the same bird or not, who knows?

Carl was wandering on the west side of the patch one day in early November when he found a new friend - a Reeve's Pheasant. He posted a video on social media showing the bird around his feet, being rather sociable considering it was in a cover crop for game birds. Later in the month, Carl and I arranged to meet on site to have a look for it again, but with no luck - although we did find yet another patch tick - a Brambling mixed in with a flock of Chaffinch. Over the following couple of months, Carl and Adey saw in excess of twenty Brambling but it wasn't until late November that I finally saw the beautiful Reeve's Pheasant. I know it's not a tick, but it's still one very stunning bird!

Images of the stunning Reeve's Pheasant

 In early December, Andy Smith found a Russian White-fronted Goose at Thornton Reservoir, so, having not seen one in the county for a very long while, I decided to go and have a look when Andy gave me the heads-up that the Greylag Goose flock it had been associating with came back onto the dam; Twenty minutes later, I was watching said bird.

Russian White-fronted Goose

Russian White-fronted Goose

Another treat from Brascote was the Starling murmuration that had been happening every evening before the flock came in to roost in the sallows. Stunning to watch between 8,000 - 10,000 birds flying above our heads; the sight and sound as they settle down is amazing!

Starling Murmuration

Early January, my good mate Dave Gray found an Iceland Gull at Watermead Country Park South. Once again, it's been a long time since I saw one, so I headed off to the Park to see it. Another good friend, Mark Skevington had found what was first thought to be a juvenile Glaucous Gullbut having sent some images to some very experienced county birders, it was declared as a Herring Gull/Glaucous Gull hybrid - sometimes known as a Viking Gull; a really educational bird!

Iceland Gull

Herring/Glaucous Gull (Viking Gull)

As always, I hope you enjoy reading about my exploits and seeing a few images. I also hope that you and your families are all keeping safe.....

Thanks for stopping by.