Monday 2nd May 2016
After finding a local Nightingale on Tuesday (26th April) near the canal, it has since moved nearer to my house. This short piece of film captures the song:


Cheshire Trip

Sunday 24th April 2016
Black-necked Grebe, Woolston Eyes
It's been a while since my last post, and that's just down to not getting round to it! Anyway, here are some highlights from my trip with the West Midlands Bird Club to Woolston Eyes NR and Burton Mere RSPB reserve in Cheshire on Sunday.
Woolston Eyes
At Woolston Eyes, sandwiched between the Manchester Ship canal and the Mersey, Black-necked Grebes are the star attraction. I noted 12, all in stunning breeding plumage. A designated SSSI, the reserve comprises four large lagoons or 'beds' used in rotation for depositing material dredged from the canal. A footbridge bridge crosses a redundant arm of the Mersey to Number 3 Bed, effectively an island surrounded by the river. Access in normally permit only - details: www.woolstoneyes.co.uk   
The footbridge, Woolston Eyes
Other highlights of the visit included a female Marsh Harrier and two adult Mediterranean Gulls, plus my first Reed Warbler of the year, and a good range of duck. The reserve is a stronghold for Willow Tit, but apart from some brief distant calls I didn't connect, not helped by the cold and damp weather during the morning visit.
Common Gull - one of at least two, apparently not a 'common' gull at Woolston
Female Marsh Harrier, Woolson Eyes
The weather perked up en route to Burton Mere, situated on the edge of the Dee Estuary on The Wirral. This RSPB reserve is part of the RSPB's Dee Estuary reserve covering more than 6,000 hectares and it's a fantastic place. The visitor centre gives views over the Reception Pool, and beyod, the Welsh bordercuts through a portion of the reserve. Highlights included nine Spotted Redshanks, all in dusky breeding attire, two Knot, 20+ Avocets, 200+ Black-tailed Godwits and nine Yellow Wagtails. I spotted among the Yellow Wagtail flock a nice male Blue-headed Wagtail. A Stoat was also nice to see. Thanks to Paul F. and the West Midland Bird Club for another great trip.
Burton Mere - the view from near Burton Point
The nine Spotted Redshanks, Burton Mere
The nine Yellow Wagtails; Blue-headed top left
The RSPB visitor centre at Burton Mere
Looking across the Dee Estuary saltmarsh from Burton Point
Bluebells, Burton Mere


February Highlights

Saturday 6th - Sunday 28th February
Great Grey Shrike, Crabtree Hill
The first trip of the month was to the Cotswold Water Park with Mark, and a long walk (nearly 6 miles) covering several pits looking for Smew. It hasn't been a good winter for Smew and we drew a blank, but year-ticked Goosander, Goldeneye and Red-crested Pochard.
Little Gull, Tack Piece, WWT
The next morning I spent at WWT Slimbidge. After a quiet couple of hours I was just leaving via the shop and happened to see Martin and Neil. They told me there was a Little Gull on the Tack Piece, so I headed straight there in time to see it. A Bar-tailed Godwit, which I had thus far missed, was also on the Tack Piece with the Black-tailed Godwits, so that was a nice bonus. I've seen the Barwit a couple of times since on South Lake.
Bar-tailed Godwit, South Lake, WWT
Bar-tailed Godwit, South Lake, WWT
The last two Saturday mornings I have spent carried out Winter Random Square Surveys. Last Saturday was Hock Cliff, and this Saturday I was surveying Ruspidge in the Forest. The Ruspidge survey turned up lots of Siskins, 70+, and two nice Bramblings. On the way back from Ruspidge I fitted in the GREEN-WINGED TEAL at Ashleworth Ham. The Teal was asleep most of the time and partially obscured, but thankfully did wake up a couple of times revealing its vertical white stripes.
Siskin, Ruspidge
Brambling, Ruspidge
Green-winged Teal, Ashleworth Ham
It was a trip back to the Forest this morning with Andy and Mark, covering Woorgreens - Crabtree Hill - Drybrook Road Station. It was generally rather quiet, the main highlights being a Goshawk and on the lake six Goosanders.
Goosanders, Woorgreens Lake (5 of the 6)


CWP, Frampton, Sharpness & WWT

Saturday 23rd - Sunday 24th January 2015
Siberian Chiffchaff, Shorncote, CWP
Saturday morning I visited the Cotswold Water Park but confined my time to Shorncote, one of the last few parts of CWP I still enjoy visiting. Not one but two SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS were present along the stream, along with up to a dozen common Chiffchaffs. Also seen, a Water Rail (others heard), two Cetti's Warblers (another heard), a Grey Wagtail and a Stonechat.
Siberian Chiffchaff - the same bird as the top photo - I didn't get a good shot of the other one
Male Black Redstart, Sharpness
Female Scaups from Robbie Garnnett hide, WWT
On Sunday I spent the morning with Andy and Mark, starting at Frampton. A Tawny Owl  was the highlight. At Sharpness a male Redstart was showing well. At WWT the highlights were two female Scaup on the Tack Piece, where I also counted c120 Black-tailed Godwits and the White-fronted Goose flock were present along with the five Greenland White-fronts. Two Avocets, 179 Black-tailed Godwits and 13 Redshanks were noted on South Lake. I spotted this Jelly Ear Fungus along the Holden walkway.
Jelly Ear Fungus, WWT
On Sunday afternoon I finally year-ticked Kestrel at Thrupp, after already ticking Merlin on 2nd. In the garden I saw a female Blackcap, the first of the winter, one of 15 species that visited the garden on Saturday.
Female Blackcap, garden


Penduline Tits at Horsbere Brook

Friday 15th January 2016
Penduline Tit, Horsbere Brook FSA, Gloucester
I spent Friday afternoon watching two male PENDULINE TITS at the Horsbere Brook Flood Storage Area in Gloucester. Penduline Tit is not only a county tick but also a lifer, one that has eluded me on more than one occasion previously. Also here were two Stonechats, a Chiffchaff, a Reed Bunting and 30 Snipe.
On a very cold weekend I also saw a Great Grey Shrike at Horse Lawn in the Forest on Saturday, but very little about in the forest finch-wise. I did year-tick Marsh Tit, Mandarin and Little Grebe at Cannop Ponds.


New Year Crackers

Saturday 2nd January 2016
Grey Phalarope - almost a record shot!
Happy New Year everyone!
My New Year's birding got off to an excellent start on Saturday morning with a visit to WWT Slimbrdge. Two SCAUPS and two Egyptian Geese on the Rushy, and GREENLAND WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, LITTLE STINT, Ruffs and Peregrine on the Tack Piece were just the appetizer. Mike phoned just as I got to the Holden Tower at 9.35am to say James had found a GREY PHALAROPE on the Top New Piece, so it was straight to Zeiss Hide. By the time I made it round, the Phal had gone into hiding right underneath a tree in which a MERLIN was sat. The Merlin eventually flew off, but the Phal apparently stayed in hiding. Eventually it re-appeared but somehow it had sneaked to the other side of the scrape. I watched it for a while as it emerged into view several times and made the occasional flight. After dipping three previously in Glos, Grey Phalarope is a long-awaited addition to my county list. I finished off the morning with an un-ringed, fully-winged Ruddy Shelduck on South Lake.


GNDs at Farmoor

Saturday 12th December 2015
Great Northern Diver, Farmoor Reservoir
I was hoping to get nice views of two Grey Phalaropes that had been present for several days, but unfortunately they had departed Farmoor Reservoir. Watching two juvenile Great Northern Divers fishing provided some consolation.