Saturday, 13 February 2016

Saturday report

Good old Kev Clements (world famous counter of Coot) paid a visit today while I was in Walsall debauching myself on real ale! (Good job that somebody takes this birdwatching seriously eh?).

I will pass on his encounters in the traditional manner as follows:

Ryders Mere

Goosander (8) - Shoveler (8) - Wigeon (10) - Gadwall (6) - Teal (2) - Pochard (28) - Tufted Duck (14) - Mallard (23) - Greylag (1) - Oystercatcher (2) - Raven and (as Kev says - "wait for it") - Coot (33).

There were also Common Snipe and Jack Snipe present today. Interesting that while I was deciding whether to get out of bed at 08.00 today, I also had a Raven calling as it apparently flew over the house. It really is lovely to have this once elusive species occurring on a more or less daily basis.

I will attempt to put some effort in tomorrow if the weather holds.

Have a good Saturday evening - Chaz

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Chasewater Roost

Not much to report in the roost today, a Med gull and a couple of Yellow Legged Gull were the highlights along with the now regular Ring Necked Parakeet which put in a brief appearance.

The calm conditions meant that the roost was well distributed and there seems to have been a distinct drop in the numbers of Herring Gull present. Daylight was good though with visibility usable until 17.35 at which time the rapid drop in temperature meant that any interesting late arrivals would have to take second place to a nice hot cup of tea (becoming a real wimp as I get older)! - Chaz

The lost chapter

It really has been a quiet winter and that seems to have resulted in some unusual behaviour from blog followers. It seems that out of boredom some of you have been desperate enough to read my autobiographical account of some of my birding experiences. My old mate Chris Altree actually took the bother to send me an extensive review and just yesterday Yvonne Moore was suggesting I look at writing a book as a remedy for my current malaise (don't worry, I wont be inflicting that on you. there are already too many people dipping into that particular well).

What it has made me do though is something which has niggled at me since I first published the 'Clayhanger Birdman' post last April. There was one chapter which I omitted. This was because it was difficult to find a way of incorporating it without disrupting the flow of what I had already done and to be honest I had been working on the text for so many days non-stop that I couldn't be bothered to re-write it in such a way as to make it fit.

More out of personal boredom than anything I have now revisited that particular piece of text and have incorporated it into the main body of the posting for anyone who is interested. The content is not a fount of lost wisdom or anything of huge significance, it mainly deals with birding overseas and can be found about two thirds of the way through the text. It is entitled Dippers in the office and lost Blue Jays.

For those who take the journey, I hope you find it entertaining. It is always difficult to edit out text that you have worked on and I am just glad to finally put this final chapter in place in such a way that I hope it wont jar with what has gone before - Chaz

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A bright - but very dull - Tuesday!

After yesterdays horrendous weather I needed to get out for an hour today so went and did a circuit on what was a very nice spring-like morning. Unfortunately we are going through one of those dull periods between migrations and without hard weather movements so it was pretty much a case of recording fluctuating duck numbers.

It will put things into perspective if I say that today's star bird was a toss-up between a very beautiful and singular Redwing that perched obligingly, or a common Wren that was at the top of some Typha, apparently plucking nesting materials from the head!

Clayhanger Marsh

Teal (10) - Wigeon (2) - Redwing (1)

Ryders Mere

Teal (2) - Wigeon (3) - Shoveler (1M) - Goosander (1M 5F) Pochard (31) - Oystercatcher (2)

Perhaps we might see a change tomorrow if tonight's predicted frost arrives and freezes some of the smaller waters? - Chaz

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Sunday Visit

 After a day besieged by the wild weather it was nice to get out for a few hours today with John and Sharron Holian. The wind was keeping a lot of stuff down but we did have a star bird in the form of a Peregrine Falcon which flew in across Ryders Hayes mid-morning before soaring over the North west of the Mere. Perhaps this was one of the birds from Walsall Town Centre which as far as I know have not yet returned to their breeding site so far this year.

Nine Snipe were recorded on the Marsh but no sign of any Jacksnipe. It is time to come clean and confess that I have been suppressing some interesting news as we have had a record number of Jack Snipe on site this winter with a minimum count of seven birds on two occasions and quite possibly double figures present (an exceptional number for what is normally only an occasional scarcity).

Had I put the news out that there were so many Jack Snipe sheltering on the marsh there would possibly have been a lot of interest and a genuine danger of these birds being repeatedly flushed by interested birders and photographers. So I apologise if this causes disappointment but as I have said before, the welfare of the bird must always come first.

Ryders Mere

Wigeon (5) - Pochard (34) - Goosander (9) - Peregrine (1) - Redpoll Sp (1)

Have a good week all - Chaz

Friday, 5 February 2016

Autumn - Month Five

Well lets be honest, we haven't had a winter have we? The number of days the temperature has touched zero can probably just be counted in double figures and the flurries of snow we have had (twice if I remember correctly?) were hardly worth talking about and had disappeared within an hour. To be fair this is pretty much what the meteorologists have predicted for our winters as Global Warming starts to make itself felt. Perhaps the winter of 2015-16 will be looked on as the prototype for the shape of things to come?

The effects on wildlife have also been noticeable, I won't recount them all here as you have probably heard all about them on the news or Winter Watch but in my opinion, the biggest effect locally has been a serious decline in the overall numbers of wintering wildfowl.

Today was a case in point with just Ten Goosander, six Wigeon and a Shoveler to be found amongst the usual Mallard and Tufted Ducks on the Mere. My main reason for going was to get the duty done before the predicted weekend weather arrives but I also wanted to say my first hello to the returning Oystercatchers.

Initially the Oystercatchers were stood at the end of the Island looking quite sorry for themselves and wishing they were back at the coast perhaps but by the time I left they were foraging in the paddocks on the south side of the mineral line.

Additional birds included two Teal on the Marsh,  a flock of twenty-six Lapwing over and a few returning winter thrushes amongst the Blackbirds and Song Thrushes (Six Redwing and a Fieldfare). Star bird was once again the Stonechat, today perching on the sedges near to its favoured bush.

I suspect I will be busy keeping dry tomorrow but there is a chance of a break in the weather on Sunday so I may pay another visit then. Have a good weekend all - Chaz

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Oystercatchers back and a bonus bird too!

Have not had chance to do the Marsh today however I had an interesting e-mail from Richard Collins who was over yesterday and seems to have clinched the first record for our returning Oystercatchers for 2016 and as a bonus apparently had a Short Eared Owl too. With so many about this winter we were due at least one record if you ask me - Chaz