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Saturday, 30 April 2011

Last week. - Local Birding and Welsh Wonders.

The Perfect Local Day

Sometimes you get days when things fall into place and you really don't expect it. I had been given a 2 hour slot to get a bit of me time and decided I needed to get out there and find some newly arrived migrants. First target bird was Garden Warbler. I know a little fisherman's car park that usually comes up trumps as is surrounded by scrub. I managed to reverse my motor into the tight gateway and noticed 2 Red Legged Partridge on the field opposite. Fortunately cars make good hides and I managed to get this shot out of the window.

On getting out of the car the Partridge made a run for it but my attention was drawn immediately to the trickling call of a Garden Warbler doing its thing deep in a bush near the gateway. A bit of pishing slowly drew the bird further up the bush and eventually it sat at the top singing it's heart out. Unfortunately no pictures here as it was straight into the sun.
So next stop was Venus Pool. On entering the car park I noticed Rob Stokes' car and decided I'd go look for him. On stepping out I immediately heard the well known call of a Lesser Whitethroat which I looked for and found in the hedgerow by the car park entrance. It was in cover so decided to wait a bit before having a go at getting a shot. So off I went down the path and ran into Rob at the bottom. We started chatting and then out of the corner of my eye I saw a large bird being mobbed, my instinct said "that's not a Buzzard" and i looked up to see a female Marsh Harrier flying into the reserve high from the North. Straight away it went out of sight behind the tall trees by the hide so we dived into the hide to view it heading South East with a crow still mobbing it. Consequently it didn't stop but this was a local Mega for us and so we were both elated.
On leaving the hide we stumbled on a toad basking in the sunshine and got this great shot.

Then, once we'd stopped celebrating and telling all we could what we'd just seen we went off for a walk around the top field to try and find Whinchat. This proved fruitless but when we got back to the car park we both decided to go and get a better look at the Lesser Whitethroat and fortunately for me it allowed me this photo.

So back into the hide for the last time I could have and the usual suspects were about but one new year tick for me was present in the form of Common Sandpiper. The LRP's had seemingly paired up at last and one was displaying to the other quite near to the hide so I had a go at taking a few shots of them. Usually I get nothing worthy of showing but this time I was lucky and got my best LRP shot to date.

So Venus pool proved to be the place to be that morning and what a morning it had been!

Later that day I got the chance to go into Wood Lane NR. I made certain this time to keep my rucksack and scope firmly latched onto my back as i did not want a repeat of my last visit here. I was hoping for Garganey but no such luck but did have some lovely views of familiar species. The Reed Warblers and Sedge Warbler were in, the Sand Martins were having fun landing on the mud and the local Mallards were already looking after their new offspring.

The Moorhens particularly look smart, at this time of year, so I grabbed a few shots top show them off.

Then 2 wagtails dropped in, which normally I would overlook, but on this occasion I noticed one was different and so got the chance to compare Pied and White Wagtail side by side.

Then I noticed the LRP count had grown to 3 and normally they don't come anywhere near the hide but today one came just within range, so that I could go for a shot, and this is what I got.

A wonderful way to end the day. I swung into Colemere, in case a tern or two were there, but quickly realised there wasn't anything about, and then I went home. Not a bad day I reckon.

This reserve is relatively new to the list, in Shropshire, and it has only been over the last couple of years that it has been watched regularly. It has a small car park and a new hide to view from and a few of the local birders have started trying to keep a site list for it. Personally I haven't really given it a chance but, one evening, I decided to drop by. I could hear a Lesser Whitethroat without even getting out of the car and then when I did a call I recognised came from overhead and sure enough my first Yellow Wagtail of the year was in view. 

In the end it seemed there were in fact 2 pairs knocking about and calling to one another from the fields so maybe  they will be successful in breeding? I went in the hide and hoped again for a Garganey but all I saw were tufted ducks and Teal. One nice thing though was 3 pairs of Goosander and fortunately a pair were very photogenic on the shoreline.

A work trip to Cardiff allowed me to do 2 things. The first was to get up stupidly early and go to Upton Warren, before work, and pay £3 to dip a Bluethroat
I made Cardiff on time and the weather picked up from being dull and overcast in Worcester to being glorious sunshine in Wales. After work I took the opportunity to visit Goldcliff pools, as it has produced many ticks for me over the years and sure enough I got myself 2 Spotted Redshank and a dashing Spoonbill. A couple of Lesser Whitethroats eluded me in the hedgerow but a Peregrine performed a short aerobatics display above as consolation. Oh and a Common Whitethroat allowed me to take a half decent photo of it for once.

                          Hello. Guess what my name is?

Common Whitethroat.

I then decided to go up the road to visit my birding pal Matt Meehan, who runs the RSPB shop at Newport Wetlands. On arrival I was greeted with the site of Matt peddling expensive optics, to unsuspecting dudes, and also to a list of birds seen on the reserve that day. One caught my eye immediately "Red Backed Shrike". WHAT! 
Nobody seemed to know if this was a real sighting or not but I got a bit of gen and, after tea and hobnobs, went and had a look. Nothing was there to speak of but did hear a Cuckoo and saw 3 little grebes have a fight. Also I got to have a go with the new Nikon EDG Bins and must say they are rather dandy with a very bright image. 

With the Royal Wedding looming my next birding trip will be while Wills does the deed. So I'll let you all know the outcome very soon.

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