Saturday, 22 March 2014

Mad as a March Hare.

Back on the Moors on Friday after work looking to see if the Red-Legged Partridge were still about. No sign! I did however get very good views of a Green Woodpecker and also saw my first Tree Creeper of the year.

While scanning the fields, I also picked out two large Hares. They were quite a way off, and the light was fading, so the pictures although not great, turned out better than I expected.

I watched them grazing for about five minutes, when without warning, they took off at impressive speed. Covering the length of the field at an incredible pace. Always a pleasure to see.


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Targets and a great way to end a day.


Straight home from work, binoculars, Taz and out on the moors. I have decided to set myself a few year targets.

- To see a Long Eared Owl this year.

- To find a Little Owl on my Patch

- To see the Barn Owl on my Patch

- To observe the Badgers at the active Sett I have found.

- To locate a Buzzard nest and follow progress of incubation, hatching and fledging.

There were six Buzzards displaying on the thermals above one of the woods this evening.

The last four targets are all Patch orientated, the Long Eared Owl is an anywhere target.

So, this evening was the start of my Owl quest. I know a few lightly looking gnarly old trees that look a decent bet for a little Owl and went to check them out. No luck this time, will keep at it.

I did however stumble across a nice year tick and a Moors first. A pair of a Red-Legged Partridge. A very pleasing tick indeed.


Pete met me down there, as he was hoping for a Barn Owl. I had lost track of the Red legs by then, but knew whereabouts they were. We scoured the hedgerows looking for them to get Pete the tick, but couldn't relocate them. I'm sure they will hang around that particular area near the farm machinery field for a while yet. I will keep a lookout for them.

I also intend getting some peanuts and raisins and starting to put feed out for the Badgers. Over Easter, I hope to observe them by spending an evening or two near the Sett. Pete is going to put a piece of ribbon up there in a hedge top so we can ascertain the direction of the prevalent wind and decide on the best viewing position.

I am quite excited at the prospect of achieving some of my year targets, and intend putting some effort into trying to make them happen.

After a hectic day at work, it was a great way to unwind this evening on the Moors. The sunset on my way back to the car wasn't bad either.


Saturday, 8 March 2014

"Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into !"

Pete had informed me that it was pretty quiet on the moors at the moment. He suggested that, perhaps we should consider somewhere different for a change for our Saturday morning wander. He later sent me a text that stated "NOT MIDDLETON!"

As Middleton has not yet dried out from the floods, and we had some rain in the week, Pete was just stressing the point that he didn't fancy a mud fest.

Based on Pete's wishes, I had a great idea. Branston Gravel Pits! There had been Curlew, Ruff, Ringed Plover and other waders reported. All local year ticks, so well worth a visit.

We arrived at Branston Gravel pits and Pete, Taz and I headed for the gravel workings. A pleasant walk across a few fields and through a wooded area.

Wooded area on way in


Eventually we came to a road that intersects the gravel workings that needs to be crossed. Mud! Not just a bit of mud, but some serious mud. Deep, and quite liquid in places. Lorries passing through had sprayed some of the mud to either side of the road where it had accumulated to a depth well in excess of 12 inches. It had to be crossed, and both of us had only walking boots on. Taz was the first to make a move, and jumped into the mud with a splat! I tentatively followed. I was wearing gators, and my feet disappeared into the mud, but thankfully, it didn't come over the top of the gators. We made it to the other side, but the mud here due to lorries was deeper, carefully, we found a route through. Taz was in a right state, my boots and gators were plastered in clinging mud, Pete was still observing, not yet having attempted to cross the road, he commented "forget that."

Pete decided he would try and find an alternative route across. He said he could see a mound of gravel a little further down the road that he felt may offer a cleaner passage across. Taz and I watched him pick his way along the road side and then attempt to cross. Initially, it looked good, but not for long.

Suddenly, I saw Pete slide and lose his footing. Arms flailing in the air and legs twisting and turning. He impressively managed to stay upright amongst the mud that had enveloped his boots and was also spraying up into the air. I was obviously concerned for him, and through the laughter and tears running down my face tried to voice my concerns. For some reason, only the sound of loud mad prolonged laughter came from my open mouth.

Once Pete reached our side of the road, he was convincingly daubed in mud. I was still unable to talk coherently due to the laughter and viewing through my binoculars became difficult due to the tears. Pete may not of been quite as entertained as I was.

A bit muddy


We didn't manage a Curlew or a Ruff. Maybe the loud bangs of a shotgun in the adjacent fields, or the sound of loud prolonged hysterical laughter caused them to take flight? We did however manage two year ticks in the shape of Redshank of which there were quite a few, and a pair of Ringed Plover. Obviously, I tried to convince Pete that the unfortunate mud incident was totally worth it to tick these birds.

My interesting route around the gravel workings had lots of interesting signs to read.


Pete decided he would navigate the return route to the car. He found designated public footpaths, and bridle ways. It was easy walking and there wasn't any mud or interesting "danger of death" signs involved. It's no doubt the route we will take next time. It's a comfortable walk, I doubt it will have the same entertainment value though.

Part of the Pete's route back.

The end of another great Saturday adventure. We did find some interesting looking footpaths and walks and will be returning soon. I hope it's as entertaining as this mornings visit was.


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Rivers and Canals

Tried a new route around the patch today. Made a pleasent change and resulted in 31 species in a brisk walk around. Didn't see any Fieldfare on the Moors, however, the football pitches on my return to the car were heaving with them. Also plenty of Redwing and Starling.

The Moors had a good feel to it this morning, the sun putting an appearance in didn't hurt.

River Anker - Warks Moors

From here, Taz and I headed to Alvecote and had a look around the nature trail and canal. We hoped to find the American Wood Duck Drake or the Manderin that sometimes hang around this area. No luck this morning.

Scenic view along the canal

The swampy area along the nature trail was seriously green.

Green and fresh


Checked out all three pools on the nature reserve. My target ducks were not around this morning.

The new managers of the angling on these pools have built some excellent fishing pegs, they make good viewing platforms too.

Will keep checking the local canal network. As the weather improves those ducks often put in an appearance.


Saturday, 1 March 2014

Out for a a Duck.

The weekend is here. There has been a Long-Tailed Duck reported all week few miles away at Sutton Park. Just contacted Pete, and he is up for going to see this bird in the morning. It's been favouriting Powell's Pool, so hopefully it will hang about for one more day.

Pete and I arrived on Saturday morning, and within minutes had located the Long-Tailed Duck. It was distant and resting, head tucked under wing. So not great views initially. We decided to walk around the lake, it took a little longer than expected. We ended up having to walk around the perimeter of the golf course too, then get back onto Monmouth Drive and walk back to Stonehouse Rd. Luckily, it was a lovely sunny morning and we had a good laugh walking round. (I blame Pete!)


We did get another year tick in the form of a Grey Wagtail, and on returning to our starting position managed better views of the Duck.

It wasn't close enough for good pictures, and the Sun was causing too much glare from our viewing position. I didn't attempt any pictures.

I already have some record shots of a Long tailed Duck, and these would not be an improvement.

We did however get some good views and added it to out local list for the year.

Long Tailed Duck