Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Well done the PONTY!

Just a quick note to say well done to Pontypridd RFC for winning there semi-final game against Aberavon in the Konica Minolta cup.
Ponty beat Aberavon 33-10, with tries scored from Gavin Dacey,Gareth McCarthy,Kristian Baller and Chris Clayton.
Next up for Ponty is Neath RFC in the final on May 17th, and going by current form, Ponty will be the underdogs for this match,but hopefully as it's the year of underdog, Ponty can produce a shock result?

Monday, 28 April 2008

Anything for the weekend Sir? Yorkshire for a King Eider and a Yankee Wigeon, 27th April 2008.

aren't rares and seabirds brill ant!!

Myself and John, left Leicester at around 6.30am to get to Rother Valley CP, near Sheffield just after 7.30 am to look for a Yankee Wigeon.

John then phoned Mark Reeder (one of the Drunkbirders crew!), who was still in bed were the best place to see the American Wigeon he had found a couple of days previously. He told John that the best place was the main lake or the far bank, were the bird had been seen the previous day.
As we checked out the main lake, there was no sign of the Wigeon, so we walked down the track to the far bank, but again there was no sign of the bird in the surrounding area.
Walking slowly back up the track I saw a Wigeon species flying and landing on to the main lake. It was the American Wigeon!

Over the next hour, initially the wigeon wasn't playing ball, but after twenty minutes, the Wigeon flew over to the near bank, and give excellent views, to which John got some decent shots of the bird.
By this time, the main target of day, a male King Eider at Flamborough Head had been re found, so we made tracks to Bridlington.

Calling into McDonald's at Goole for some breakfast, we soon finished our Hash Browns, Bacon Rolls and Coffee and drove on to Flamborough for the Eider.(yes I know I'm giving money to the capitalist corporation, but there do do a great breakfast!)
Arriving at South Landing at Flamborough Head, we were told by a couple of birders, that the King Eider had been relocated showing off the Lighthouse, so we drove to the Lighthouse, only to be told that the Eider was now showing from North Landing!
Driving over to North Landing, we finally soon picked up the Eider distantly off the headland.
Although it was quite misty over the sea, we did take a few distant record digiscope shots of this splendid duck.
Other sightings in this area included good numbers of Puffins, Razorbills,Guillemots and the usual seabirds associated with Flamborough Head.
Moving on to Bempton Cliffs RSPB, as usual the lovely smell of guano greeted us as we walked down to the cliffs.
Like at Flamborough, good numbers of seabirds were showing on the cliffs, although there was more Puffins at Flamborough head.
Over the next hour we took a number of photos of the seabirds.

From Bempton, our final destination of day was Swine Moor, near Beverley to look for a Lesser Yellowlegs which had been present for a few days.
Parking by the roadside opposite the flooded fields, we soon had seen a Wood Sandpiper, a couple of Garganeys, and a bird which looked very much like a Lesser Yellowlegs (it was reported later as a Greenshank via the pager services!?).
Other sightings in the area, included two nice looking White Wagtails, a single Yellow Wagtail and a Greenshank.
Happy with a good day's birding and a number of year ticks we finally called it a day, and drove back home to Leicester.

Thanks to John for his photo of the Yankee Wigeon in this post.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Soar Valley Tick Bittern hooray! 20th April 2008.

A very wet dawn chorus!

Another early morning start for myself and John, as we guided the LRWT Leicester group around Prior's Coppice LRWT for the dawn chorus walk. Although it rained for most of the walk, good numbers of common species were heard and seen, with highlights included a calling Tawny Owl, at least four Marsh Tits, and singing Grasshopper and Garden Warbler. The last two were year ticks to boot.
After finishing the walk we move on to Robin-a-Tiptoe Hill, near Tilton, were John promptly found a male Ring Ouzel distantly feeding round the top of the hill.
The Ring Ouzel was a nice find, but there nothing much else to report, so myself and John went back to Leicester for some breakfast at a local McDonald's ( This is the only meal I will eat at McDonald's!), and then dropping off John at his home.
After a short power nap at home, I was woken by phonecall from Jez Robson, who had just seen the Bittern again down at Cossington Meadows.
As you can imagine I drove very quickly to Cossington Meadows.
Joining Andy Mackay, Jez and John down at Cossington, the Bittern showed again, as it flew around Tern Pool and then landed in the nearby reedbed. When the bird was first seen it was apparently walking down the track next to the tern pool!
Other sightings around the meadows included newly arrived Whitethroats, Reed Warblers and five Yelllow Wagtails on the plover meadow.
As it seem to be a day when lots of stuff were being recorded, I moved on to Groby Pool, as a group of Little Gulls and a Black Tern had been found by Brian Moore.
As I got out of my car, John let us know that the birds had flown off, but there was some stuff at Thornton Res as well, so jumping back in to my car, I followed John to Thornton.
Arriving at Thornton Res we scanned the water to see that four Little Gulls feeding over the surface, which we accompanied by twelve Common Terns and a single Arctic Tern.
In the nearby fields we also watched a corking male Yellow Wagtail feeding around the cattle and horses, when suddenley the hirundines all went berserk,chatting and gaining height very quickly. At this point I picked up a Hobby flying over the reservoir, and shouted to John of it's presence. We watched it try and catch a couple of Swallows and Martins but this time to no avail.
As time was pressing, what better way to finish the day, with a number of year ticks and a Soar Valley tick to boot!

The Brecks,Stone Curlews, Cranes and Ouzels. 19th April 2008

Following an early start from Leicester at around 5.00am, John, myself and the Wearside Whippet (aka: Brian), drove over to the "Brecks" on the Suffolk/Norfolk border for a day trip around Norfolk.

Our first port of call was Weeting Heath NWT to look for Stone Curlew and WoodLark. Arriving first at the West hide, we soon located two pairs of Stone Curlews in front of the hide, and as you can imagine we took quite a few photos of the Curlews.
Moving on to the East hide, like the Stone Curlews we soon located a singing Woodlark quite close to the hide. Again the group took a few photos of the performing Woodlark.
The other notable sighting we had on the reserve was of an adult Stoat giving grief to the local Lapwings and the large population of rabbits.

From Weeting Heath, we then went to Lakenheath RSPB reserve. The last time I went to this reserve about five years ago, it had no facilities, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a new visitor centre and a build up of new habitats like the new large reedbed and the surrounding washland.
Sightings we saw on the reserve included good numbers of Bearded Tits and five Marsh Harriers over the large reed bed, newly arrived spring migrants in the form of Sedge Warblers, Whitethroat and a single Reed warbler. However the best sighting we had on the reserve was of an adult Common Crane flying briefly over the reed bed. Last year a pair of Common Cranes breed at this site, which was the first time in Britian for over two hundred years,so hopefully it will occur again this year?

Moving on from "The Brecks" we drove over to the North Norfolk coast, to see if we could find some more spring migrants. First stop was Burnham Overy Staithe to look for a long staying Rough-legged Buzzard, but after scanning the marshes for a good half an hour, there was no sign of the Buzzard.
Following a pager message we then moved to Thornham, to look for the reported Ring Ouzels. Parking on the road between Thornham and Choseley, we soon located at least three Ring Ouzels sitting on a nearby hedge in the surrounding farmland.
The final destination of the day was Snettisham country park, were a pair of Garganey had been reported earlier in the day.
Checking out the marshes, notable sightings included a couple of Avocets, good numbers of Pink-footed Geese,a pair of Marsh Harriers quartering the marshes, and the usual waders normally encountered at Snettisham. However there was no sign of the Garganeys!
Returning to the car the final sighting of the day was of a Lesser Whitethroat singing in a nearby bush next to the car park.
Thanks to John for supplying his photo of the Common Crane at Lakenheath.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Internet back on line Hooray!!!

Since Thursday last week my internet has been down. I have made a number of phonecalls to India (site for BT Homehub technical support?), and it looks like the problem is now fixed! Hooray!!
Thanks is due the technical staff and the engineer who came round this morning.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Spring migrants over the week plus a Vulcan!!

Due to problems with my internet(See other post), I will include a brief description of the spring migrants I have seen over the last week.

14th April 2008: Warren Hills.
Ring Ouzel and two (male and female) Wheatears.

15th April 2008: Soar Valley(Wanlip Meadows).
1 Little Egret.

16th April 2008: East Leicestershire(Eyebrook Res).
Yellow Wagtail(3) and 1 Ringed Plover.
However the major highlight of the day was connecting with the refurbished Vulcan Bomber flying over the Leicestershire countryside, on my way home!

17th April 2008: Soar Valley area (Cossington Meadows) and Eyebrook Res.
1 Dunlin, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Cuckoo, 1 female Wheatear, 1 Little Egret and 1 Sedge Warbler at Cossington Meadows.
1 "Blue-headed Wagtail" and 10+ Yellow Wagtails at Eyebrook Res in the afternoon.

18th April 2008: Thornton Res.
1 male Redstart.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Anything for the weekend sir?...Ouzel Hunt.

 Over the last couple of days I have been checking out Beacon Hill and Warren Hills hopefully to see if I could find a Ring Ouzel.
Saturday 12th April:
Starting at Beacon Hill, I usually checked the fields by the top car park, as the previous year I found at least three Ring Ouzels in the these fields.
Although the weather wasn't favourable for spring migrants, the top fields had over the previous last couple of days produced three Ring Ouzels( which I had missed), up to five Wheatears, a splendid looking male Redstart ( which I had seen!) and a newly arrived Tree Pipit.
So walking round the top fields the only thing of note I could see was a couple of Willow Warblers singing and a Tree Pipit near the summit of the hill was a slight disappointment of what had happen in the previous days.

Moving on to Warren Hills, like Beacon Hill, it was still pretty quiet, with the only sightings of note was of two Wheatears (Male and Female) in the lower fields next to Charnwood Lodge.
Maybe I was flogging a dead horse came to mind?
Changing tack I decided to check out a few other sites in the Charnwood area, which included Thornton Reservoir, and Wanlip Meadows.
At Thornton Reservoir, the only noteworthy sighting was that one of the Little Owls was showing well not far from the small car park.
My final destination for the day was Wanlip Meadows, but again there not much to report except for a couple of Oystercatchers flying over the meadows, and the odd Sand Martin hawking over the scrape.
So I decided to call it a day, and went to Ms.Mole's house to watch the Ospreys beat the Leicester Tigers at Rugby from Twickenham instead.
The match itself was slightly a one-sided game as the Ospreys ran out victors 23-6 to a very poor Leicester team, but as I'm biased to Welsh teams I was pleased the Ospreys won!

Sunday 13th April:
Another early start saw me again at Beacon Hill, but like the previous day, the spring migrants were very thin on the ground. In fact I didn't even write anything in my notebook it was that quiet! Moving on to Warren Hills, it appeared that like Beacon Hill, there was not much to report. While I was at this site I received a text message from Ben Croxtall, who was at nearby Bardon Hill, and it sounded that he was having the same luck as me for finding Ring Ouzels. So I decided to move on to the Soar Valley.

Starting at Cossington Meadows, I took the long circular walk around the reserve, checking out Rectory's marsh and the Lower marsh section first, then I moved on to the Tern Pool and the Hobley Lake area. The birds I recorded in this area included a fly-by Curlew, and a single Green Sandpiper on Hobley Pool. At around the same time I got a pager message that a male Ring Ouzel was at Warren Hills. So cursing my luck, I phoned Ben to let him know about the Ouzel, and then drove back to Warren Hills.

Scanning the fields at Warren Hills, I myself and Ben took a good 30 minutes to refound the male Ring Ouzel, which as usual appeared from nowhere, after we had scanned the same field at least thirty times.
Other birds in the same field included at least two female Wheatears, and a large flock of ninety-plus Fieldfares.
Watching the Ouzel, I took a few distant record digiscope shots of the bird.
At around the same time I also saw the strange behaviour of three Jackdaws collecting hair from a nearby cow's back!(See the photo above).
After watching the Ouzel for a good 20 minutes, I retraced my steps and went back to the Soar Valley.
Finishing the day I had look round Watermead CP South and Birstall Meadows which produced more spring migrants in the form of a nice looking Black-tailed Godwit, and a brief Curlew on the meadows. Small groups of Sand Martins and Swallows were hawking over the gravel pits, and the long staying female Scaup was gorging herself on the local halfwits bread rations!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Beacon Hill spring migrants part 2.

With John Hague leaving me a message on my phone in the morning just before work, about that Andrew Cliff had just found three Ring Ouzels in the fields opposite the top car park at Beacon Hill.
As I couldn't do anything until I had finished work, I didn't get to Beacon Hill until 5.00pm, were I met John by the track overlooking the cattle fields at the top car park.
John let me know that the Ring Ouzels had not been seen for at least three hours, but the fields did have three Wheatears (a male and two females), and a beautiful looking male Redstart in then.
Although all the birds were a bit distant, the weather made it very difficult to take any digiscope shots.
Over the next hour I check the surrounding area for the Ouzels, but my luck was out, as there was no sign of the birds.
On the way home,I checked out Cropston Reservoir, and finally saw a couple of House Martins hawking over the reservoir, with a mixed flock of Sand Martins and Swallows.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Thornton Wag, Bats and Unf***inglievable!

Following a phone call from John Hague about a Yellow Wagtail at Thornton Res, I made my way to the reservoir via the weekly food shop at Morrison's.
Parking at the small car park at the opposite end to Thornton village, I met Mark Skev just along the track, as he was trying to take a photo of the local Little Owls.
Although the Little Owls were not showing, I did pick up the male Brambling, which John had found earlier and was showing well in trees further along the track.
Mark took a few shots of the bird until it flew off up to the nearby hedge.Following this sighting Mark showed me the Yellow Wagtail which was in the nearby Cattle field, with at least one White Wagtail and a good number (c.25) of Pied Wagtails.

With time pressing, I left Thornton Res, had a quick tea, and then picked up John, to go to the LRWT ( Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust) Leicester group meeting.
The talk was about Leicestershire Bats by Nathalie Cossa, and was really interesting, and we even had the chance to see Common Pipistrelle, Brown long-eared and Noctule Bat at very close quarters.

After the meeting had finished,myself and John went to our favourite local watering hole (The Crit for short) for a few drinks.
Whilst taking part in the music quiz, I got a text message from Mark Skev, about the Liverpool v Arsenal Champions league match,and found out that Liverpool had won 4-2!
Maybe it was a good idea I didn't watch the match, as I would have probably have no finger nails by now?
Following the match we then came second in the music quiz, and was an excellent end to a good afternoon's birding and a very entertaining evening.
Bird photos supplied by Mark Skev and John Hague, cheers chaps!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Well done Bluebirds!

Well done Cardiff City for reaching the FA Cup final, for the first time since 1927.
The "Bluebirds" beat Barnsley 1-0, from an excellent volley scored by Joe Ledley.
Although Pompey are probably favourites to win the cup this year, I wouldn't rule out the "Bluebirds" causing an upset?

Anything for the weekend sir?...Hereford Celebrations!

Over the weekend I have been in Hereford, celebrating my Auntie Mary's and Uncle Jim's 50th Wedding anniversary.
It was good to see the extended family,most of whom I haven't seen for the last ten years!

On the Saturday before the party,I went to see Hereford United play Chester City at Edgar Road, with Elwyn (my cousin Anne-Marie husband)and his Dad.
Most of the match Hereford were the better team, scoring two goals in the first half from Ben Smith and Gary Hooper, and looked like cruising to victory until Chester's Kevin Sandwith hit a spectacular shot in the 68th minute to score for the away side, and then in the final minute, all hell was let loose, when the ref gave Chester a penalty for a supposed hand ball, to which Kevin Ellison dispatched with great ease into the top corner.
To say Elwyn and his Dad were gutted, was I think probably an understatement, also I think the other 3,000+ Hereford fans were not best pleased with the decision from the Ref!
So at the final whistle, it wasn't surprising that the referee was escorted off the pitch by a good number of stewards for his own safety.

The families evening celebrations went well and the whole family had a really good time, especially my cousin Elizabeth who drank too many tequila slammers!
Staying overnight at the local Travel lodge, me, my dad, Jon(my brother) and his partner Robin the next morning had a good hearty breakfast at the local Sainsbury's, and then walked around Hereford city centre for a couple of hours.
I took a few photos of the city's understated cathedral, and a statue of Edward Elgar, Hereford and Worcestershire most famous cyclist/composer.

Returning to my auntie's house at around 12.00pm, as usual with family celebrations more food and drink was consumed.
We finally left Hereford late in the afternoon, after saying goodbye to the family, and returning home to Leicester via the motorways, and watching the wacky races in front of me while driving home!

Snow Bunting needle in a haystack! (Friday 4th April 2008).

Following news from the LROS website the previous night, I checked out Melton Airfield for the reported Snow Bunting in the afternoon.
Driving to the site,I didn't realise that the site was so large until I drove onto it, and then knew it was going to be an uphill struggle to find the Snow Bunting, as a needle in a haystack came to mind!
Parking next to the strangely isolated industrial estate in the middle of the former airbase, the only birds I saw was a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits in the surrounding area.
Mark Skev who had the same idea as myself, joined me at the industrial estate to look for the bird, but like the previous hour of me searching the area, there was still wasn't any sign of the bird by any derelict buildings or any pallets!!

Friday, 4 April 2008

Eyebrook Spring migrants part two

After a report on my pager about a pair of Garganey at Eyebrook Reservoir, I left work as soon as possible.
Arriving at Eyebrook just after six in the evening, the first sighting I saw was a "fish rat" flying over the reservoir as I approached the inflow end, which was good to see.Parking the car not far from the inflow end, I spoke to Chris Lythall, who had only just lost sight of the two Garganey, when the fish rat flew over the reservoir.
Scanning the inflow end we soon relocated the pair of Garganey on the far bank, which were feeding on the shoreline.
At this point I took a few record digiscope shots of the two Garganey.
I must admit when it comes to ducks, I think Garganey is probably my favourite duck species, and it is always a pleasure to see them, even in eclipse plumage!
Other sightings I saw at the inflow end included two nice looking Black-tailed Godwits, the long staying Green-winged Teals, at least four Little Ringed Plovers and a couple of fly-through Swallows.
After being at the reservoir for just over an hour I made my way home.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The news this week? Immigration!

Well I have finally cracked, and maybe it has something to do with the BBC right wing agenda about Immigration constantly in the news.
I'm sick to death, about people complaining about Immigration, and being little xenophobic englanders.
I would just wished people looked at their family history, and realise that EVERYONE in this country was an Immigrant!
I think it has something to do with the Ice age, and the migration of people into this land mass!?
Also maybe people memories are very short sightened, but didn't this country fight a war less than 70 years ago, against the fascists and Nazis, who had the same ideas about the right wing agenda, the BBC, Daily Mail and the Tory party aspire to at the moment?
Any way rant over for the time being, normal service will return shortly!