Thursday, 31 January 2013

Pete getting the Ticks.

Pete has been visiting the Moors on a regular basis and the ticks are steadily building up. Pete will soon be working out the January count and it's looking pretty good.

Pete's recent sighting of a Barn Owl hunting is great news. I look forward to crossing paths with it myself. Should I be lucky enough to get pictures, I will put them on here.

I have to say, Pete is getting a real feel for the Moors now. As he is spending more and more time there, he is becoming more familiar with its inhabitants and when and where to find them. I am hoping he can put me onto the Barn Owl soon.

Pete's records are on this blog, just click on the photo below.

Pete on the Moors click to read his January accounts.


Monday, 28 January 2013

More Local Flooding

Koi and I attempted to visit Whitemoor Haye today. Need Little Owl for a year tick and Whitemoor has been my banker venue for the last two years. Set out from home at 7.30 and at 7.40 I was heading back towards Tamworth. My Whitemoor Haye visit being postponed. Bloody floods! The road near Catton Park was well  submerged and i just wasn't risking a big repair bill. So, back to Tamworth and some more local birding.

We met up with John at Shuttington and left the cars in Laundry Lane. We walked up the lane and around the fields. To be honest, it didn't look good for a year tick. There were plenty of thrushes about, but they didn't allow a close approach for good pictures. Took this one through my scope, again holding the iPhone to the eyepiece.

Fieldfare and Redwings

The ground was sodden, but at least the fast thaw and rain overnight had cleared the snow. Hence the floods. The local rivers were rising fast and already in flood so yet again much of the locality was going to be underwater again.

John left us and Koi and I headed for the bridal path. I know a good area for Siskin and hoped there may be some about. No such luck! We decided to stop and have a coffee. Flask out, coffee poured and we started scanning the adjacent trees and woodland.

Koi spotted a tit he wasn't sure of. He pointed it out to me. I eventually got some good views of it and, a year tick in the form of a Willow Tit. In the next ten minutes, two more year ticks with Treecreeper and Nuthatch putting in an appearance. It had turned into a rather eventful morning. Three year ticks a good walk and a good laugh.

Its a great way to start a Sunday.

It was then home, a quick tidy up and out with the family for lunch.

A nice pub lunch along with a decent pint and all my family. Its what Sundays were made for.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Willow Tit!

A great tick for the Moors. Pete will no doubt put an account together of his sighting that can be seen on the Moors count page of this Blog. Pete has told me he noticed the Willow tit near our feeding station. He said it hung around the vicinity for a while without actually visiting the feeders. It obviously knows there is a source of food there, and I hope to see it myself soon. On the feeders would be great. If so, I will try for a picture. A lovely little bird.



Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Snow Day. Tamworth Moors

I found out on Sunday evening that my place of work was closed on Monday due to the weather, so I had a bonus day off. Now, I hate snow with a passion, but today, I could live with it.


I donned the thermal stuff and boots, popped the binnies in my rucksack along with a flask of coffee, grabbed my dog Taz and headed for the bus stop. The roads still didn't look great, so again I left the car at home. Off the bus at Bolehall, a 5 min walk and we were on the Moors. Pete was waiting there for us and we set off.


The snow was undisturbed and deep in places, it did however look great. It's just a shame that every day it covers the ground is literally a life and death struggle for our wildlife.



As expected, the birding was very quiet. We did however glimpse a large female Sparrowhawk which was the highlight of the day. We filled the feeders again and the Blue and Great Tits were on them in seconds. At least some of the bird life will get an easy meal. Pete and I watched for a while and enjoyed a nice hot black coffee from the flask. Taz, she just pointed at things she found interesting?

We set off again looking for anything avian to interest us.

As unexpected as it seems, after wandering along the edge of the river Anker, we managed to get a new year tick for the Moors in the shape of a male Goosander on the river. We were both pleased. The effort had been worthwhile after all. Then as we approached the next field, we saw a flock of smallish birds drop into a small area where the snow covering was sparse. We crept along the hedgerow to get closer and had some good views of another Moors year tick. A flock of Skylarks working hard to find some food on the frozen ground. Also, mixed in with them were a few Meadow Pipit. I looked up Winter Skylarks online and found this. Looks like we had a text book sighting.

When to see

Skylarks can be seen all year round. In winter they form flocks - often with other species such as meadow pipits.

That concluded our Moors walk for the day. We had been out for about three hours. Had a great morning and got a couple of new year ticks for our Moors list.

I am hoping now for a fast thaw. Although the snow is thawing as I write this, it is also snowing again. Can't wait to see the back of it.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Tamworth. Tameside Nature Reserve

Another winters morning and a quick decision on where to go? The main roads are fine, the side roads treacherous. I have not moved the car since returning from work on Friday afternoon. Hence yesterday's birding by bus. I decided to take the car and stick to main roads and five minutes later was parking near Tameside NR.


A friend was fishing on the river, not for the faint hearted in this weather. He was hoping a winter Chub would cooperate and make a great picture in the snow. He had been there since 6am, I arrived at the reserve at 7.00am.

I had just left the car when my mobile rang. My fishing mate had just had an Otter swim past him and it was heading downstream at a leisurely pace. A big dog Otter by the sounds of my friends description. He has seen many Otters and can be relied upon to give accurate information.

I had just set foot on the reserve and was well downstream of my friend. I rushed to the rivers edge and slowly walked upstream hoping for a glimpse of the Otter, no such luck I'm afraid!

What I did see, was a count of 48 Cormorants! Most were low flyovers, a few were working the river and a few were seen drying their wings on the islands of the lake. A result of many stillwaters being frozen over no doubt. At least 20 Goosander were also sighted in similar situations to the Cormorants.

Depending on your perspective, this could be viewed in two ways. A great morning for the naturalist, or a nightmare scenario for the angler.

We, (Taz and I), reached my friend and stopped for a chat. As expected, he wasn't as pleased with the abundance of fish predators on the river this morning as I was! Then, another predator put in an appearance and gave some good views hunting through the now falling snow, a Sparrowhawk.

The snow started to get heavier and visibility poorer. I walked upstrem to the aqueduct but the only interesting thing I could see, was a massive icicle hanging from the arch, almost touching the river. At least 4ft long I would estimate.

I decided to head back to the car and make tracks for home. Tameside looked very nice in the snow, but visibility was too poor to carry on.

On way back to the car, I noticed the reserves feeding station feeders were all well topped up and a nice willow observation area has been erected since my last visit. The feeders were being used by a large flock of Reed Bunting. They will certainly make the most of this food during our arctic snap. Personally, I can't wait to see the back of it. I hate snow!


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Tamworth. Birding by Bus!

Yesterday, it snowed! According to reports, 6 inches in two hours. I'm not sure how accurate that is, all I know is, there was a lot of it.

This morning the roads are still in poor condition. Main roads are pretty good, the side roads and lanes however are not good. I decided to leave the car at home and go "Birding by Bus."

I caught the bus outside my house and met Pete at Bolehall. We we on the Moors ten minutes later.

I am not a snow fan, but I have to admit, the Moors looked picturesque.



It was a little quiet regarding birds sighted, but we saw a few, including a nice pair of Bullfinch and a cracking female Sparrowhawk.

With the weather this harsh, the birds will be struggling for food, so Pete and I made sure the feeders were full and also left some Apple and bread. A lot of birds, mainly tits waited patiently in the trees as the feeders were filled. It didn't take long for them to take advantage of the situation.


A very enjoyable morning in good company. Glad I left the car at home after witnessing accidents and a vehicle unable to get up a hill. Walking in that snow was hard work though, the legs are feeling it now.


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Think before you report! Sad Cull

Birders really need to use their loaf a bit before reporting Ruddy Duck and making their whereabouts public knowledge. If the public know, it doesn't take DEFRA long to cotton on.

As immoral as it seems, this government has cut NHS workers wages, frozen public sector pay, pillaged pensions funds, made major cuts to every local authority, raised taxes and told us in the words of Simply Red, "Money's Too Tight To Mention."

Apparently it's not too tight to carry on the funding for culling Ruddy Ducks?

The link below, suggests that to date, it has cost the British Tax Payer in the region of £740 per Ruddy Duck Culled? Justify that in these times of austerity?

Cost to you, the British Tax Payer.

FERA, Is the body responsible for the culls, and they really are intent on the eradication of the Ruddy Duck in the UK.


This is their current policy.


Future work in the UK

It is now clear that eradication of Ruddy Ducks from the UK is feasible, and Defra has agreed to fund additional work in 2011/12 which should result in further significant falls in the population. This is in line with the commitment of other European countries to eradicate Ruddy Ducks elsewhere by 2015, which will ensure that the threat posed by Ruddy Ducks to the White-headed Duck is finally removed.

So, before you think about reporting a Ruddy Duck sighting, remember you are aiding in its total eradication in the UK.

Even trying to be clever with veiled references a five year old can decipher, make you look a fool, and the Ruddy Duck look even rarer.

If you are lucky enough to spot a Ruddy Duck locally, or any where in the UK for that matter, enjoy the bird and keep stum about it. Walk away knowing you are helping that bird avoid the FERA marksman.

If you doubt how seriously FERA take Ruddy Duck reports, the stimulus for me jotting this down was that today, due to a few birders reporting what they had seen, ten Ruddy Duck were culled on a London Reservoir.

An exert from the report reads;

Wednesday 16th January 2013

  • Alexandra Park/Wood Green: Hawfinch flew N over Western Road N22 at 12:03 and into Alexandra Park (Dominic Mitchell via @birdingetc).
  • Beddington SF: 1st w Glaucous Gull and ad Mediterranean Gull (BirdGuides).
  • Brent Reservoir: The reservoir’s 10 or so Ruddy Duck were the subject of a cull today (Brent Birders)

Do Ruddy Ducks a favour, keep it to yourself.