Thursday, 28 January 2010

More Gulls at Shawell GPs..............

2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull.

Adult Med Gull (German ringed).
2nd Winter Med Gull.
Meeting up with Neil Hagley again this afternoon at Shawell balancing lake. The gull sightings we had over the afternoon included 2 Mediterranean Gulls (the regular Adult German ringed bird and a 2nd winter bird), an adult Caspian Gull and three Yellow-legged Gulls (2 adult birds and a 2nd winter bird).
Talking to Neil about the gulls at this site,the one bird we still hadn't seen yet is Glaucous Gull and looking at the weather from the weekend into next week hopefully one will be pushed down by the northerly winds?

Monday, 25 January 2010

All Quiet on the Soar Valley front.........

Since the euphoria of finding the Ring-billed Gull at Shawell it's back to normal service again! Going to work on the late shift and checking out the Soar Valley in the morning if I have time? So over the last few days I have missed the two drake Smews down at Watermead CP South as the weather was crap and my bins and scope just steamed up every time you tried to look through them. I did however finally heard the male Cetti's Warbler singing at the same site a day or so later which put my list now on 82 species for the year.
Other sightings before the Ring-billed Gull find (sorry Skev, yep I'm milking it!) on the same day included the Ross's Goose of unknown origin, 2 Green Sandpipers, small groups of Tree Sparrows and "Harold" the Whooper Swan on and near the flooded fields at Wanlip North Lakes/GPs.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Ring-billed Gull OMFL!!!

Meeting up with Neil Hagley this afternoon at Shawell Balancing Lake almost the first gull I looked at was an Adult Ring-Billed Gull. Just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating I ask Neil to have a look at this gull in my scope and he came to the same conclusion. GET IN!!!
So over the next half an hour we ticked off all the salient features of the bird and then phoned out the news.
As this was probably only the sixth record for Leicestershire and Rutland as you can imagine I took quite a few digishots of the gull.
Joined later by the Groby crew (Allen, Andy F and Paul) just before the Ring-billed Gull flew off towards the tip, it wasn't long before the group picked at least 3 Yellow-legged Gulls and 3 Caspian Gulls (2 Adults and 1 2nd-winter bird) in the large gull flock.
So to put this sighting of the Ring-billed Gull in context, it's probably only the sixth time it has been recorded in the county.It was a county tick for myself, Neil and the Groby crew and Ring-billed Gulls are still quite a rare bird in Midlands, so you can realise that everybody who saw it had a big grin across there face!?!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Soar Valley Year List update......Pintail and a Pink-footed Goose!

Off from work today, so it was down the valley again. I checked out Watermead CP South and Birstall Meadows first. The highlights I saw included finally seeing the elusive male Pintail which was flying around the site following a large flock of wigeon until it settled on the flooded waters on Birstall Meadows. Ok you say what so special about the Pintail, well its a bit of a Mega in the Soar Valley as usually we only get a record once every five years.
I let John Hague know about it as I think he still needs Pintail for his Soar Valley list?
As the winter chill has finally release its grip it was also good to note a couple of calling Chiffchaff in the surrounding vegetation.
Moving on to Wanlip North Lakes, and walking a short distance from the car I noticed the Geese flock next to the horse paddocks. Scanning the flock I noticed straight away that it contained a smart looking Pink-footed Goose, Get In!!
So another bird on the Soar Valley list, I slowly moved closer to get a record shot of the bird, but as usual the Geese flock flew off and back onto the flooded fields. Although the Pink-Foot was of unknown origin I let John know about the sighting.
Moving further along the footpath I scanned the fields and noted that the Greylag flock was over 300 birds strong and held good numbers of Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Teal.
My final port of call was Cossington Meadows but surprisingly nothing of note was recorded, although I must admit I did leave before it got dark so may have missed the Shorties and Barn Owls.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Watermead CP North wildfowl count 17th January 2010.

Here is the latest wildfowl count for Watermead CP North (which includes the Birstall section):
Great Crested Grebe: 17, Cormorant: 19, Grey Heron: 7, Mute Swan: 97, Canada Goose: 63, Wigeon: 252, Gadwall: 146, Teal: 4, Mallard: 89, Shoveler: 39, Pochard: 36, Tufted Duck: 84, Moorhen: 20, Coot: 294, Greylag Goose: 1, Little Grebe: 6, Goldeneye: 17, Goosander: 11, Water Rail: 4, Red-crested Pochard: 1, Lapwing: 40, and Mandarin Duck: 1.
Other sightings included: 2 Sparrowhawks, 1 Buzzard, and 1 Chiffchaff.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Soar Valley year list update.....Red Crested Pochard!

Although I have been at work all week I checked out the whole of Watermead Country Park today. For most of the day it was pretty quiet on the sightings front, but I did find a nice looking male Red-crested Pochard firstly as it flew over me by King Lear's Lake, then the Key Lakes at Birstall and then finally the waterski pit at Watermead CP North. I let John Hague know about it as it was a good bird for the Soar Valley recording area. The only other species I added to my Soar Valley year list today was a couple of Skylarks over the Watermead CP South.
So including today's sightings my Soar Valley list is now on 73 species for the year.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Soar Valley Yearlist Challenge!

Along with my mate John Hague and Pete Jessop we have all decided to do a Soar Valley year list. The challenge of the year is to see hopefully up to 140 species over the year.
So the first week highlights have been the elusive Bittern at Watermead CP North, the "down at your feet" Mandarin on Worcester Lake, up to six Woodcocks in the recording area and the Owl show at Cossington Meadows.
So going to press I have currently seen 71 species in the valley, with John on 74 species and Peter not too far behind.
So as there said "Game on!?"........................

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Albert Village Lake a Gull Mecca..............

Here's a few more shots of some Yellow-Legged Gulls I have seen over the last couple of days at Albert Village Lake ( and a shot of the number of gulls on the frozen lake!).

2nd Winter Glaucous Gull at Albert Village Lake.

I finally connected with the 2nd winter Glaucous Gull at Albert Village Lake yesterday and here is some record shots of the bird.
I think the bird spends quite a bit of time on the nearby tip as it took me over an hour to find the bird in the freezing conditions.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Happy New Year, Scotland, and an Iceland Gull.

Views of Glasgow from Queen's Park.

Monument to Mary Queen of Scots last battle.

Adult Iceland Gull Strathclyde Loch.

Well its a New Year and I'm back from Scotland after visiting my brother and family in Glasgow for Hogmanay. It was great to see lots of Snow and Ice and it felt like a proper Christmas for once!
Any way back to the sightings, the only day I went birding in Glasgow was to Strathclyde Country Park, near Motherwell.
Lots of Snow,Ice and sub-zero tempertures greeted me as I parked the car and then I walked down to the Loch's shoreline. Most of the Loch was frozen over but good numbers of gulls were situated on the Ice.
Scanning the gulls it wasn't long before I found the reported adult Iceland Gull and as usual I took a few record digishots of the gull.
Over the next hour I also looked for the reported 2nd winter Ring-billed Gull at the Calder rivermouth, but my luck was out and my first dip of the year!