Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Not a Nuthatch in sight!.... 19-22/03/2010

In my profile I mention a Nuthatch seen at Center Parcs fuelling an interest into birdwatching, well I returned at the weekend to Center Parcs, Nottingham! It has been at least eight years since my last visit, not a lot has changed there but the one bird I thought I would be guaranteed to see was a Nuthatch....however not one seen or heard the whole weekend! Plenty of Mallards, Egyptian and Canada Geese, Swans, Moorhens, Coots, Tufted Ducks, Woodpigeons, Carrion Crows, Magpies, Jackdaws, Chaffinches, Blue & Great Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Dunnocks, Robins and Blackbirds! Surprisingly only two Greenfinch were seen and heard over the weekend.

I was pleased to see a new addition, a Nature Centre! The centre had plenty of information on all wildlife at Sherwood Forest, they also run several nature activites, great for young and old alike! There is a good bird hide on the edge of the forest and the feeding station had feeders brimming with a variety of seeds also a table laden with fruit! Great Spotted Woodpecker and Jay were the star attraction on one of my visits there.
The wildlife at and around the villa was interesting. Daily visitors were Mallards (at least five), Moorhens, Egyptian Geese, Swans (yes, 2 Swans), Squirrels, Rabbits galore and a small rodent that looked like a Field Vole! It seemed that everywhere you looked while out walking there were Mallards and Rabbits in abundance!
I enjoyed early morning walks, I do mean early, 6.30am one morning, well it was the first day of Spring and surprisingly frosty after rain the previous day! All was quiet, the only sounds were the birds singing and the sound of Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming echoing through the pine trees, also a Green Woodpecker yaffling in the distance. A Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Mistle and Song Thrush were seen on a couple of the walks.

It was a fun weekend spent in the great outdoors, that is when I wasn't in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise having more fun and a good splash around with a certain young man, my much loved Grandson!

Monday, 15 March 2010

RSPB Sandwell Valley....14/03/2010

It had been a long while since I had visited RSPB Sandwell Valley Nature Reserve so that was to be today's afternoon outing! The lake was surprisingly quiet and in all honesty this was how it had been on previous visits, hence that is why Sandwell Valley is not a regular on my 'to visit' list! I suppose being less than 5 miles from Birmingham City Centre and also the West Midlands being landlocked it is not going to be bustling with Waders and Wildfowl.!! Having said that the natives are friendly, well I would say that being a Brummie myself.lol!! On every visit there I have found the RSPB staff & volunteers to be especially helpful and always keen to have a chat...us Brummies/West Midlanders are always ready for a friendly natter.lol!!
The reserve is adjoined to Sandwell Valley Country Park so there are usually lots of people out walking if not particularly bird/wildlife watching.
There are alterations going on at the reserve at present, a new and much larger car park, the garden is being given an overhaul which judging by the previous garden will certainly be a wonderful haven for Butterflies/Dragonflies and all sorts of insects!

Getting back to the birds now and on the lake were Teal, Pochard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler, Oystercatcher, G C Grebe, Little Grebe, Shelduck, Coot, Moorhen and numerous B H Gulls. In the marsh area a Common Snipe was spotted. At the feeding station were numerous Chaffinch and Greenfinch along with Bullfinch, House Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Robin and Woodpigeon. The feeding station is always a pleasure to stand and view as it is always bustling with birds and the odd rat.lol!!!
I saw my first and only Ring-necked Parakeets at Sandwell and on enquiring about them was told that they do not frequent the feeders as much now as they are tending to go to garden feeders....what a garden tick.lol!
The sun was too low and bright to get any decent photographs today, which I suppose is as good an excuse as saying it was too dull to explain my lack of photo's, or maybe it is just my photographic skills. ;-)

Saturday, 13 March 2010

A Buzzard or two or three and more at Brandon Marsh....7/03/2010

A gloriously sunny start to Sunday was perfect for a visit to Brandon Marsh and the sun shone for the remainder of the day which makes a change, especially at weekends. Plenty of people had the same idea of visiting Brandon as the car park was chocca on arrival!!! Brandon is popular with families as there are pleasant and on the whole flat walks for families with young children and in the main are away from the hides, which is a bonus if you are there for the birdwatching.lol! Some of the paths were quite muddy and slippy so wellies were a good choice of footwear today. We were to be treated to a spectacle of Buzzards soaring in the afternoon thermals, what a sight they were too! First one Buzzard in view then another lifted from the dense trees beyond the adjoining Golf course, then another and another joined them until there were ten Buzzards all told soaring at one point! In the main seven were flying fairly close and the rest were scattered! Several birdwatchers stood and enjoyed the spectacle of these magnificient and majestic birds soaring! What a treat!! Sadly no photo of them as the sun was quite bright and I found it hard to focus on them, so I gave up and just enjoyed the show.
Other highlights today were Water Rail (2), Shoveler, Lapwing, Common Snipe, Shelduck, Great Crested Grebe, Teal, Coot, Moorhen, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mallard, Kestrel, Reed Bunting, Robin (and the usual birds around the feeders), Great Spotted Woodpecker and a first of the year Ringed Plover x 3! They were very flighty and I had originally ID'd them as L R Plover but on checking the sightings later that evening could see they were reported as R Plover...oh well, that will teach me to look more closely in future!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Songs to herald Spring!....6/02/2010

Joy of joys, no frost this morning and it almost felt mild outdoors.......almost! I was off to the Fisheries bright and early, well 8.30am, which is early for a Saturday morning! I enjoy this day of the week if I have nothing much else planned for the morning, it is my couple of hours of solitude, I can walk when I wish or stop and look and listen when I wish. As I neared the entrance to the Fisheries I spotted and heard a Yellowhammer singing for all it's might at the top of a small tree along the hedgerow! Sadly I could not stop for long as the road is winding and narrow. I drove down the track that has ploughed fields either side of it and leads to the Fisheries with the delightful sounds of Skylarks singing, I could not see them but certainly heard them! It was a lovely start to the day hearing the Yellowhammer and Skylarks a sign that Spring is really starting to take hold now. As I parked up it began to drizzle so I sat in my car for ten minutes hoping it would abate and it did! I placed seed on the top of a few paddock fence posts and set off for my walk. The usual Blue & Great Tits were flitting and calling and a bonus today was a Long-tailed Tit that flew to a small tree and I noticed that it had a tangled spiders web in it's beak! It flew into the brambles and emerged a couple of minutes later, nesting time has begun!!! A Buzzard took flight in the adjoining field, I didn't catch sight of it again until much later when it flew over the pools and beyond trees some distance away. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming, I think there were two as the drumming did seem to be coming form different areas, well as far as I could hear with my fleecy hat covering my ears! A Green Woodpecker was also heard but not seen today. Other species seen this morning were Pied Wagtail, Greenfinch, Robin, Mistle thrush, Starling, Redwing (6), Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Woodpigeon, Canada Geese, Heron and B H Gull.
Exciting times ahead with the arrival of Spring!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

A stroll in the sunshine....02/03/2010

It was such a wonderful sunny day that I couldn't resist the temptation to go for a short stroll in the sunshine and fresh air! So off I set for the short drive to the Churchyard that is adjacent to the Fallow Deer Park on the Hagley Hall Estate. The Fallow Deer were well scattered in the park today, Carrion Crows and Magpies were also to be seen in the park. It was surprisingly quiet with birds today, just the odd calls from Blue Tits and unusually not a Long-tailed Tit in sight! I did however have decent views with binoculars of a Buzzard being mobbed by a Carrion Crow, after what seemed to be about five minutes the Crow gave up and left the Buzzard in peace. I later heard a Buzzard mewing but did not catch sight of it. The view in the photo attached is the view looking towards Wychbury Hill which is part of the Hagley Hall Estate and can be accessed from public footpaths. The Obelisk can be seen in the center of the photo. This area is where I found my one and only Hawfinch in December 2008! No Hawfinch today just an enjoyable stroll in the sunshine.

An afternoon at WWT Upton Warren....28/02/2010

As the predicted storm that was coming in from the Atlantic didn't materialise in the West Midlands on Sunday, well a few showers happened in the morning, an afternoon at WWT Upton Warren was on the cards, this being unusually only the third visit to Upton Warren for the year. Local areas have in the main taken precedence and have been thoroughly enjoyed as the walking involved makes you feel you have achieved something more than just sitting in a hide waiting for something to turn up at times, as much as I enjoy Upton Warren I am more and more tending to seek out new local and when the weather improves not so local areas.
First stop was the Moors Pools. Black-headed Gulls were plentiful as were the Tufted Duck and Mallards. With Shoveler, a lone Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Teal, Pochard, Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Cormorant and G C Grebe the highlights on the water. The feeding station was busy with Blue & Great Tits, Blackbird, Reed Buntings & Dunnocks. A herd of Curlew were seen in a field adjoining the pathway to the hides. A Song Thrush was spotted along a path by a stream.
Next stop the Flashes. It was fairly quiet on the Flashes. Black-headed Gulls, Common Snipe (2), Mallard, Curlew, Coot, Moorhen, G C Grebe, Canada Geese, Grey Heron and Swan being the species in and around the water. A flock of c250 Lapwings were feeding in a ploughed field and amongst them seven Golden Plover were spotted, however when the Lapwings suddenly took flight a tight flock of eleven Golden Plover were seen! They were a good highlight of the day as was the Little Egret that flew in the distance past the Flashes and presumably heading for the Sailing Lake where it had been reported roosting or to the Moors Pools. It was getting increasingly colder as the afternoon wore on so time to call it a day! On the walk back to the car park two Jays were spotted in a tree, so a nice end to a pleasant but cold afternoon. Oystercatcher and Little Egret were added to my year list today.

Monday, 1 March 2010

The first day of Martius!

The first day of March and what a wonderful day it has been. Wall to wall sunshine! Crocus flowers have opened and the Snowdrops are looking glorious in the sunshine, other bulbous plants showing signs of life are the daffodils and tulips! Buds are starting to form well on trees and shrubs with the promise of colourful blossoms to brighten our days!
My favourite poem reminds me of sunnier, warmer and colourful days ahead in my garden.

Once You've Loved A Garden
Patience Strong

Once you've loved a garden-it's hard to let it go.Once you've planted trees and flowers and shrubs and watched them grow-they send down roots into the heart becoming part of you-stealing through your mind when there are other things to do. And if through changes, failing health or disability-you have to give it up it clings around your memory-though you cast it from your thoughts, in dreams you'll see once more-the roses at the window and the daphne by the door-imagining you catch the scent of thyme and mignonette. Once you've loved a garden you can never quite forget.