Saturday, 22 October 2016

Will it be a Waxwing Winter?

I have had a day off from birding today (come on guys, I have done the last three days)! and have not received any reports so far. I'm pleased to say that one or two of the 'usual suspects' have got back in touch with their phone numbers (YES - My phone actually DID die on me and I really have lost eighty percent of my contacts) so I will be able to spread the news a bit more  efficiently next time something good turns up.

This evening I have checked the Bird Guides website and was impressed by the greatly increased number of sightings of Waxwing. Admittedly most so far are in Scotland but there have also been records from Yorkshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Waxwing is one of those magic charismatic species that you can never get tired of seeing and it has been a few years since we last had an invasion (some of you will remember hundreds of birds stripping the berries from the trees around Silver Court a few years ago)?

Lets hope that today's sightings are an omen for things to come?

Enjoy your Sunday - Chaz

Friday, 21 October 2016

Sunrise over the Mere

I forsook my Friday swim today in order to get to the Mere for first light just in case yesterdays SIXTEEN Whooper Swans had broken with tradition and roosted. As expected it was  not to be but it did provide a varied list of species first thing including our Cetti's Warbler for the third day.

Did I see it again? - Nearly.

Today it was singing loudly from the Typha in the outflow channel (where the Marsh drains into the Ford Brook). It was so low in the vegetation that although I could see every individual stalk move, I could not get on the bird. It reminded me how lucky I was to get views on Wednesday, Tony Stackhouse is  very keen to get views, I have heard roomers that he was seen carrying an industrial standard chain saw yesterday and that Sim Mayou has had to order-in a supply of napalm!

I did see another warbler however - a very late Acrocephalus Warbler (Probably Reed - Possibly Sedge?) in the Typha beds. Frustratingly brief views of what would be a noteworthy late record.

Redwing, Fieldfare and Siskin are continuously on the move and I'm not even going to try and assess numbers. Ten Gadwall and three Wigeon flew from the Marsh to the Mere and there were again two calling Water Rails (one in the same ditch as the Cettis). Single Snipe were seen on both the Marsh and Mere and three Teal on the Mere were the only ones I saw today

The Willow Tit was vocal but elusive and the Kingfisher was seen briefly on the Mere - all this and a sunrise too - not too sad to have dipped on the swans after all - Chaz

Thursday, 20 October 2016

*Cetti's still present for second day

Yes, our first Cetti's Warbler has become  (if you will forgive the expression?) Twitchable.

I didn't race over today, arriving just after 09.00. For the first half hour I hung around the area where it was active yesterday but to no avail.

Assuming that the bird was still present anyway (why would it leave such excellent habitat?) I carried on along the mineral line to a point just below half way (45 to 50 fence posts from the tin bridge for those requiring accuracy) where it is possible to look across the Typha beds at the extreme west end of the Swag Pool. Just after 09.30 the bird commenced singing and then continued to sing constantly for about twenty minutes, going quiet at about 09.50.

The bird has abandoned the riparian vegetation and today was constantly in the Typha beds. Despite the fact that it seemed to be ranging between various reed beds during the time I was there I did not see it once! 

For anyone familiar with this species this won't come as any surprise as Cetti's is without a doubt one of the most elusive species to get views of. Even the song is not an accurate guide to its location as it is also a ventriloquial species the song often sounding as if it comes from higher in the vegetation than the birds actual location (they tend to favour low perches).

Anyway - its there for anyone who is inclined to put in the effort, I know that Kev and Ray will be along later and even (Big-BAD) Bernard Smith has threatened to pay us a visit, so if you go along there is a chance that someone will be around to help you find the bird.

As for me? Well I have an appointment at The Black Country Arms where the Autumn Beer Festival starts today. What a terrible let-down I must be to you all?

Enjoy our rarity- Chaz

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Cetti's Update

The bird is still present at 16.30 and has been heard singing (five times) by Chris and Graham Weston and Tony Stackhouse.

Of additional interest there are at least three calling Water Rail present on the Marsh, a Wigeon, seventeen Common Teal and an occasionally calling Chiffchaff.

Weather permitting I will do my best to get over in the morning and will update then - Chaz

***New Species Alert***

Photograph Copyright:wildaboutbritainuk
I intended to do a full circuit of the Marsh and mere today but hardly got past the Tin Bridge. I was being ridiculed by the local Water Rail as usual so I stayed by the Typha Beds determined to get a glimpse of one for a change. Instead, I put a thirty year prediction to bed when a Cetti's Warbler commenced singing from the bushes above the waterline.

The habitat at Clayhanger has always looked perfect for this species but despite yearly predictions that; "Any day now one of those will turn up" we have never had one - until today.

If you want to find it I can give you exact directions. Cross the tin bridge at the Clayhanger end of the Mineral Line and proceed along the fence for twenty-eight fence posts. The bird is singing regularly and doing some bubbly sub-song from the dense cover under the tree which overhangs the water. On one occasion it perched briefly on the edge of the tree before flying into the Typha and singing from there too. If you are unfamiliar with the species, it is quite long-tailed and wren like and in flight, this specimen looks very dark (mahogany toned) on the upperparts (very similar to the one in the photograph - above).

The song is unmistakable, being a very loud burst often compared to the 'William Tell Overture' or 'Die Fledermaus'. I go with the former, but then I am a bit of a Pleb when it comes to classical music but I do remember watching 'The Lone Ranger' at the Saturday Morning Pictures (Ask your Nan)!

Oh - and for those of you wondering why I haven’t called you to pass on the news directly you may recall...


I asked you to contact me with your numbers and if you haven’t bothered, that is not my fault! - Chaz

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Another winter visitor arrives

Photo Copyright Fraser Simpson
Thanks to Ray Fellows who was over the marsh and mere yesterday afternoon and found the first wintering Goosander of the year (three females). He also had three Snipe, a bird that seems to be arriving in quite good numbers already!

Quiet today although a Cormorant was seen flying in just before 11.00 this morning.

I am stuck in the house waiting for a telephone engineer so who knows if I will get a chance to get over today? - Chaz

Sunday, 16 October 2016

SEE! I have got a conscience

With in half an hour of my last posting the rain had stopped, the clouds had parted and the sun came out. My wellingtons were whimpering to go out so off I went - I hope you are happy now?

Big surprise was as I was walking home a Swallow and two House Martin swooped across the recreation ground - sods law I had just pencilled-in my latest dates yesterday (having not found any at Chasewater)! Duck numbers had increased on the mere, both in numbers and variety and there seems to have been a fall of passage migrants including my first local Fieldfare of the year and at least three Goldcrest.

Clayhanger Marsh

Teal (1) - Shoveler (1F) - Water Rail (1A - as usual) - Goldcrest (3) - Fieldfare (5) - Redwing (6)

Ryders Mere

Teal (1) - Shoveler (1F 2M) - Gadwall (14) - Pochard (3) and Wigeon (12)

There we are then, things are starting to happen. We are picking up a few fringe stragglers from the recent influx of northern and eastern species and a definite increase in waterfowl. There must be something amongst this lot worth finding so why not get over and have a look for yourself?

Have a good week all - Chaz